How Long is Too Long to Leave Your Dog Home Alone?

When dog owners schedule trips, the added cost of pet care is sometimes an unwelcomed surprise.  To cut down on the expense, they ask for two quick daily visits for dogs that are being left home alone for 24 hours a day for several days.

“Here’s the thing,” writes certified professional dog trainer Nancy Tucker in Whole Dog Journal, “and I won’t pull any punches: 10 to 12 hours is too long for a dog to be alone in a single stretch.”1

Of course, as she goes on to say, there are plenty of people who argue they’ve always left their dogs, with no issues.

“What this means,” says Tucker, “is that the dogs who appear to be fine have simply learned to cope with something that is entirely out of their control. Being left alone for long stretches of time is not a likely choice that they would make if it was up to them. They’ve adapted to our routines, but it’s far from ideal for them.”

Pet parents need to remember that dogs are social creatures.  Especially now, when most dogs have gotten used to having their humans around for much greater periods of time each day, leaving them alone for days or weeks will be difficult for them.  They need opportunities interact with people for extended periods of time each day.

While there’s no one-size-fits-all rule for the maximum amount of time a dog can be left alone in a single stretch, obviously, potty breaks are a necessity.

Experts assert that most healthy adult dogs need a minimum of 3 to 5 opportunities each day to relieve themselves.  Older dogs, and those with certain health conditions like urinary incontinence, will need to go out more often. Generally speaking, adult dogs shouldn’t go without a potty break for more than 4 or 6 hours.  When it comes to puppies, even more consistent attention is required.

It’s important to realize that while your dog may be able to “hold it” for longer periods, she really shouldn’t have to. Beyond 4 hours without a potty break, and certainly beyond 6, most home-alone dogs become uncomfortable.

Our standard policy at Prancing Poodle is a minimum of 3 visits for dogs that are left alone for 24 hours.  We find that this policy keeps the dogs happy and comfortable and eliminates clean-up duty in the house.



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