4 min read
How Long Can You Leave a Puppy Home Alone?
By Mel Lee-Smith
Published: 05/07/2021, edited: 12/15/2022
Reviewed by a licensed veterinary professional: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS
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Pets relieve the stress that comes with a full-time job or a busy class schedule. Problem is, most workplaces and schools don't allow your bundle of joy to accompany you, and it's not healthy to leave your puppy home alone for too long, either.
How long can you leave your puppy alone? And what should you do if you're planning to get a puppy but have other obligations? Keep reading to find out.
How long can you leave a puppy home alone?
Before we dig in to how long you can leave your puppy home alone, we need to cover some sleep stuff first. Your puppy's sleep schedule will affect everything from how often they need to go potty to how long you can leave them home by themselves.
The good news is, puppies sleep a lot. We're talking up to 20 hours per day! The bad news is, puppies under the age of 16 weeks tend to sleep in short bursts of 30 minutes to 2 hours throughout the day and night.
To make matters slightly more inconvenient, young puppies between 8 and 12 weeks old can only hold their bladders for 1 to 2 hours. So unless your boss is super accommodating, you probably won't be able to come home to check on your puppy that often.
Knowing all that, how long can you leave your puppy alone? Short answer: it depends on their age, breed, health, temperament, and other factors. To keep your puppy healthy and happy while you're away, follow this general rule:
Puppies younger than 6 months: Leave them alone for 2 hours max at a time
Puppies older than 6 months: Leave them alone for 4 hours max at a time
Puppies can hold their bladder for up to 1 hour for every month of life. For example, a 2-month-old puppy can hold their bladder for up to 2 hours. Larger dogs tend to have bigger bladders and can hold their urine for longer. Health issues can affect how often your pup needs to potty, so keep this in mind as well.
Just because a 6-month-old puppy can hold their bladder for up to 6 hours doesn't mean it's a good idea to leave them alone for that long. Their young bodies and brains are still developing, and leaving them alone for too long can lead to behavioral issues and conditions like separation anxiety.
No dog should be left alone for a full 8-hour workday. The only dogs who could potentially deal with your absence for that long are adult dogs (older than 18 months) who are well trained, well behaved, and used to being alone for extended periods. Even then, this situation is far from ideal.
What to do if you work or attend school full-time
Okay, so you can't leave your puppy home alone for more than a few hours a day. But you also can't quit your job or your studies just to stay home with your fur-baby. What's a dog lover to do? Here are a few solutions for puppy parents with full-time obligations.
Book a dog sitter, dog walker, or drop-in session with Wag!
You want your puppy to get used to spending time alone, but you don't want to ship them off to a kennel every day. With Wag!, you don't have to! Book a Drop-In session with a Pet Caregiver on the Wag! app to prevent accidents and keep your puppy entertained. Your Pet Caregiver will fill up your pup's food and water bowls, play with them, and ensure they're comfy and content.
Need something a little longer than a 20-minute check-in? We recommend booking a dog walker or dog sitter through the Wag! app instead. A dog walker will take Sparky on a 30-minute stroll, while a dog sitter will care for your dog in your home overnight.
No matter which service you book, you can chat with your Pet Caregiver anytime right in the app and even receive photo and video updates!
Ask a trusted friend or family member to help out
It takes a village to raise a fur-child, so don't be afraid to lean on your loved ones to ensure your puppy is well taken care of. Got a roommate who works different hours, or know a fellow pet parent who lives in the area with a more relaxed schedule? Ask them if they'd be willing to lend a helping paw with pet care.
Create a routine
Dogs are their healthiest and happiest when they have a solid routine with set times for meals, walks, and potty breaks. Start thinking about your pup's routine before you bring your puppy home.
Once you've got your puppy, start implementing their routine as soon as you can. The sooner you start, the quicker they'll get the hang of it.
Try to walk your dog early in the morning before you leave for work or school. A morning walk will give them a chance to potty and tire them out good and proper — chances are, they won't even notice you leave! Plus, what better way to start your day than spending some quality time in the great outdoors with your fur-child?
Be smart about crate training
When done correctly, crate training works wonders. Not just for keeping your canine content while you're away, but also for protecting your shoes, furniture, and everything else puppies love to chew on.
But don't expect to just place your puppy in a crate, lock the door, and head off to work. This will cause immense stress for your fur-baby and could lead to separation anxiety. It may also sabotage your potty training efforts — young dogs simply can't hold their bladders for that long, and the notion that puppies won't potty in their crate is a myth.
You should be present for every training session when you first introduce the crate to your dog. Keep sessions short, and make sure their crate is as cozy and inviting as can be.
Puppies younger than 6 months should never be left in a crate longer than 3 to 4 hours a day (or 2 hours if they're still potty training).
Need a helping paw with caring for your puppy? Download the Wag! app to book a pet care service, access Wag! Vet Chat, and more!