How Long Can You Leave a Dog Alone

How long can you leave a dog alone

Dear Hindy,

How long can you leave a dog alone? My husband and I are out of the house all day, so our dog is pretty much by himself for about 9 or 10 hours. Are we bad parents? Thank you, Tina.

How Long Can You Leave a Dog Alone

Dear Tina,

The fact you’re concerned about this shows me you’re not bad parents, the opposite in fact. In an ideal world we’d have enough money not to have to go to work, or at least have the opportunity to work from home. That isn’t the case, and we don’t want to deny ourselves the amazing companionship of a dog either. Having said that, dogs are social creatures and it isn’t fair to leave them alone for that length of time.

They absolutely have to spend some time alone, otherwise they will develop separation anxiety, but not that long.  

So is there a solution? There are a few in fact.  

Whatever you decide, it is important to take him for a long walk, or even run before you go to work. It will tire him out and make him less anxious about being alone. I know there’s always a mad rush to get out the door, but I’m afraid it’s too important, so you may have to get up a few minutes earlier.  

How about doggy day care? Prices vary but even if you can’t send him every day, one or two days a week will help.

Hire a dog walker to break up the day for him, not to mention give him the chance to pee and poop.

Do you have friends or neighbours who could take him for a walk?

How about a barter system? You have someone walk the dog, or let him stay at their place during the day, in exchange for any help you can offer.

How about an animal care student from a local college? It would be great experience for their resume.

These are just some of my ideas, but I’m sure you can come up with others that best suit you.

Good luck.  

 

 

Hindy Pearson
I am a dog trainer and behaviour consultant, specialising in working with first time dog owners. Whether you're thinking of getting a dog and aren't sure if it's the right time, or you've been sharing your life with one for awhile but there are issues you can't resolve, I am here for you. No matter where in the world you live I can help.

10 Comments

  1. Jana Rade

    Roxy were stuck home alone for most of the day too when we both had to go to work. It’s life; what is one to do about that? Though these days, if one can afford it, there are options such as dog daycare, dog walkers, dog sitters …

    Cookie is lucky because I work at home now so she’s never alone.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      It’s true, when you have to go to work and dog care is out of reach, they do end up home alone. Cookie is really lucky to have you home. I love working from home, I can’t imagine having to go to an office again!!

      Reply
  2. Cathy Armato

    Hindy, this is such great advice! For about 2 years during our time with our Husky Icy my husband and I both worked outside the home. We were gone for so many hours and didn’t want to leave her alone for so long (we didn’t have Phoebe yet). 2 to 3 days per week at PetSmart doggie day camp really helped a lot. I was also able to occasionally come home from work during lunch, although rarely, where I could get her out to potty and spend a short time with her. Day camp was better because being a high energy dog, it tired her out a LOT and that was great for her – she loved it!

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Thank you Cathy! She’s so lucky you sent her to day camp. Even 2 or 3 days would have made such a big difference to her, having other dogs to play with and the chance to let off some of that energy. I wish more people found a way to make it happen, although I know sometimes it just isn’t possible. I imagine brown bagging it a couple of days a week could pay for a walker or day care even if just for a day or two.

      Reply
  3. Dash Kitten Crew

    Next door are new to the house and say their dog doesn’t bark when it’s left alone. I can tell them different as it can see down into the back of our garden and barks. But tell that to the pet parent who knows everything – right? Frustrating because the dog is friendly enough and a bit silly 🙂

    I am tired of dog parents who think its ok to leave their animals for long periods of time. You don’t. You take them for a walk, entertain them THEN you go out.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Marjorie don’t even get me started on this topic! Have you mentioned to them the dog barks? I’m constantly amazed by the people who tell me their dogs are fine alone for 10, 12 hours. The worst part, these are the same people who barely walk their dogs. They’re nice enough people, just clueless and not interesting in learning in different. I always say to my husband, surely they see how often I take my dogs out, it should register that perhaps they’re doing something wrong. Nope and you can’t fix stupid.

      Reply
  4. Kamira

    These are interesting tips. I never owned a dog however have friends that do and all of them leave “wee wee” pads out while at work. I always wondered if there was a better option for working pet parents? Now I know. I’ll have to share this post to give them more ideas. I’m sure it can’t be easy being a dog alone for 9+ hours.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Thanks Kamira. For me it’s about more than leaving pee pads down for a dog. They’re social animals and I don’t believe it’s fair to leave them alone for such long hours. I know we all have to work, and walkers and day care are expensive, and we should all have a dog if we want one but I still think it’s important to try and figure out an alternative.

      Reply
  5. Sweet Purrfections

    I grew up with dogs and love them. However, for the past 20+ years I was involved in jobs that required long hours away from the house and several road trips. I’ve had cats for almost 40 years. Truffle and Brûlée like for me to be gone either, but it’s easier than having a dog at home.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      I agree about easier with cats. I never grew up with any animals, and for years I only had cats. I worked every day and didn’t feel it was fair to have a dog if I was out of the house for so many hours, and for me a dog walker wouldn’t have been enough. The cats had each other for company and they were fine.

      Reply

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