You get up in the morning and out comes Cooper, rushing down the hallway, wiggling his way over to you. You’re a little groggy, but boy, does that big slobbery smile cheer you up in an instant. He follows you around the house as you get ready for the day, wagging his tail as he goes, happy to shadow his master. It’s time; work is calling and you head out the door on the way to the office, but not before you take one last glance back at Cooper. He’s standing on the windowsill, giving you a longing gaze in hopes that you’ll return promptly, his eyes as big as the moon. That’s when it hits you: the guilt. The guilt of leaving your precious fur child alone while you work during the day. You don’t need to dwell on those feelings all too much; dogs can be on their own for a given amount of time. So, how long can you actually leave your dog alone? The answers are all here for you, but it does depend on certain factors. Let’s jump in!

As a general rule, dogs can be on their lonesome for four to six hours a day; this goes for dogs aged from 4 months old to a year and onward. However, the younger the dog, the less time they can be left by themselves. Puppies, for example, need more frequent windows to empty their bladders. At 8 to 10 weeks, hour breaks are necessary for their tiny organs. At 4 months, four hours will do. Depending on the age of your pup, you can find out how long they can be left alone; here is a great infographic for more details. One the other hand, senior dogs might need to be let out as often as puppies. With a variety of health problems, every two to six hours could be necessary. It depends on your dog, but just be watchful of their habits. You’ll pick it up.

When you leave your dog alone during the day, make sure to give your pup things to do or play with him beforehand. A bored dog makes for mischief! You might come home to ripped trash bags, chewed furniture, and general messes. This is more common with younger dogs, but dogs with separation anxiety might also do the same. One of the first things you can do to help your dog is to tire him out before you leave. Take Cooper on a long walk to get all of his energy out; he will spend a good chunk of the day resting after an exercise. Chew toys, bones, and balls are great options to keep your pup occupied. Instead of chewing up your new couch, they will hopefully opt for a toy.

If you are going to be gone longer than four to six hours, make sure you have a plan in place. Maybe your partner, roommate, or neighbor can let your dog out for you. Make sure this is a person your trust as you want to keep your best bud in the hands of someone kind and loving to animals. There are also great options for dog-sitter services like, Barking Trails and apps dedicated to this purpose. Experienced dog-lovers will cater to your pet’s needs at all hours, and even take them on walks if desired.

Rebecca Gutknecht
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