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How Long Can You Leave a Dog Alone? + What Age for Puppies | Pupford

December 27th, 2023

Filed under Pet Parenting

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The summer is a great time to bring a dog into your family. Not only do you not have to deal with dark, cold nights for late potty trips, but you may be off from school or taking vacation from work which leaves you more time to bond with and train your new dog.

But what happens when the summer ends and it’s time to go back to school or work? Or even if your schedule isn’t changing, what happens when you need to be away from your dog for a significant period of time?

It’s totally normal for dog parents to have questions and concerns about how long you can leave a dog alone!

Some of the most common questions we get:

  • How long can you leave a puppy home alone?
  • How long can you leave an adult dog home alone?
  • How can you prevent accidents when my dog is home alone?
  • How can I prevent destructive behavior when my dog is alone?
  • Does my dog have separation anxiety?

We’ll be addressing all these – and more!

But first, a note.

bored dog waiting for dog parent to come home

We know that leaving your dog home alone is unavoidable sometimes. And for the most part, it’s fine.

But if you find yourself in a position where your dog is home alone the majority of the time, it may be beneficial to enlist the help of a neighbor, a friend, a dog walker, or a pet sitter. That way, you can be sure your dog is getting the exercise and interaction they need to be healthy and happy.

For those times when you have to leave your dog, however, we can help you do so in a way that is safe and stress-free for them!

And another note, your dog's basic needs should be met before being left alone! This means proper walks, physical exercise, mental enrichment, meals, attention, etc.!

Do not try to leave your dog for extended periods of time without proper exercise beforehand, it's a recipe for disaster.

🐶 Help calm your pup when left alone with our natural & effective Calming Supplements. Shop here! 🐶


The first question of when you can leave a puppy alone will depend on many factors.

  • How is your puppy doing with crate training?
  • How is potty training progressing?
  • How old is your puppy (some breeds are considered "puppies" well past a year old)?
  • How long will you be leaving (more on that below)

The biggest factor in how long your dog can be home alone for is how long they can go without a potty break.

Puppies require very frequent bathroom breaks, especially if they’re still working on potty training.

One rule of thumb is that they can last one hour per month of age. For example, a two-month-old puppy would need to go at least every two hours, and a three-month-old puppy every three hours, etc.

puppies hold bladder graphic

Of course, this is just a guideline. It also depends on the size and breed of your dog (smaller dog = smaller bladder), and your dog’s individual needs. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and keep alone time shorter.

If you are still working on potty training with your puppy, it’s important that they stick to their schedule as closely as possible. That may mean getting a friend or pet care professional to take your dog potty at their usual time, even if you don’t plan on being out of the house for many hours.


how long can an adult dog hold their bladder

Once potty training is well established and your dog has settled into their adult routine and needs, they can begin to spend a little more time alone.

Many adult dogs can go up to eight hours without going to the bathroom, but holding it too long can potentially lead to infections or stones. Ideally, offering a potty break every four to six hours would be best for health and comfort.

Also keep in mind that just as puppies require more frequent bathroom breaks, senior dogs may too.

Older age and certain medical conditions can hinder your dog’s ability to hold their bladder and/or bowels, so adjust alone time accordingly.


how to prevent accidents when you leave your dog home alone

The only real way to prevent accidents altogether is to offer frequent enough potty trips.

For some, this means getting someone else to let your dog out while you’re gone. For others, it may mean installing a doggy door or another safe way for your dog to access their potty area on their own.

The hard truth is that it’s your responsibility as a dog parent to make sure your dog gets enough potty trips. Accidents happen, and when they do, it’s not your dog’s fault – it’s a sign that the routine needs to be adjusted.

🐶 Help calm your pup when left alone with our natural & effective Calming Supplements. Shop here! 🐶


dog destroying things when left home alone

Accidents aren’t the only thing that can go wrong when we leave our dogs home alone. Chewed furniture, ripped couch cushions, trash hunting – you name it, and a dog out there has done it!

But there are things you can do to reduce and prevent destructive behavior when your dog is alone:

  • Practice crate training and give your dog alone time in the crate even when you’re home. This will make the transition to being alone easier while giving them a safe and comfortable place to stay while they are alone.
  • Make any changes to your schedule gradually so it doesn’t cause stress for your dog. If you are getting ready to leave your dog for work or school, practice shorter outings in the weeks leading up to it.
  • Provide adequate exercise even if it means waking up earlier in the morning to walk your dog, or trading an evening Netflix episode for a game of fetch.
  • Give your dog plenty of mental stimulation with snuffle mats, chews, lick mats, and similar tools. Be sure to introduce these while you are home to make sure your dog doesn’t choke or chew these items before letting your dog use them when they're alone!

We dive into a lot more detail on this topic in our article How to Stop Dog from Destroying Things When I’m Gone.


separation anxiety in dogs

Oftentimes destructive behavior, barking, crying when left alone, etc. are caused by boredom – but sometimes it’s a little more serious. Dogs that experience separation anxiety will show unwanted behavior because they become extremely stressed when they’re left alone.

So how do you know if your dog has separation anxiety?

In addition to destructive behavior and accidents, dogs with separation anxiety will show:

Separation anxiety can happen on its own or be triggered by an event like a change in schedule, environment, or household dynamics.

You can read more about the signs and causes of separation anxiety in our article Separation Anxiety in Dogs: A Simple Guide.

If you suspect your dog has separation anxiety, we recommend visiting the Separation Anxiety Course in the Pupford Academy for expert-led guidance.


Some dogs need time to adjust to being home alone, while others are happy to hang out solo for some time. Every dog is different, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to leaving your dog alone.

As long as their needs for food, water, potty, exercise, and enrichment are met, your dog can learn to stay home alone for a decent amount of time – it will just make the reunion at the end of the day even sweeter!

As a recap, most puppies can be left alone for roughly 1 hour per month of age.

And most adult dogs can be left alone for anywhere from 4-8 hours, depending on a variety of factors.

If you're concerned about leaving your dog home alone, be sure to check out our Calming Supplement! With ingredients like Chamomile Powder, Passion Flower, and Valerian Root Powder it will help your pup relax and calm down when left alone. Shop the Calming Supplement here!

How does your dog handle being left alone? Tell us in the comments!

🐶 Help calm your pup when left alone with our natural & effective Calming Supplements. Shop here! 🐶


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