Dogs are very social animals, pack animals, that need to spend most of their time around people and family. I often get asked by my clients, "How long is too long for a dog to be left alone?" Many pet-parents work long hours and think it is acceptable for their dog to be crated for up to 9 hours.
I hope this helps answer this common question.
How long can a dog be left alone?
It depends on the age. If your dog is over 1 years old, they can be left alone up to 6-8 hours at a time. If you work full time, please consider hiring a dog walker for a midday break for your pooch. It is important to give your dog an opportunity to stretch their legs and give them a potty break.
Another GREAT option is Doggy Daycare, which provides your dog a break from their crate. Check out my blog on Doggy Daycare to get more information.
Absolutely, under no circumstances should a dog be left alone for over 8 hours. A dog that is crated for long periods of time day after day can develop behavioral issues and stress. Some dogs can also develop separation anxiety, a very serious behavioral condition.
How long can a puppy be left alone?
A puppy that is not fully potty trained should not be left alone for more then 1 - 2 hours at a time. As your puppy continues to improve on their potty training, you can increase the time they are left alone; however, it should not be more than 4 hours at a time.
If you have a puppy and work full time, you should hire someone to come over to give your puppy a potty break. Another option is to ask a neighbor that is home to come over to take your puppy out for a potty break.
Coming home on your lunch break to take care of your puppy during this young age is another way to make sure your puppy can relieve itself.
Puppies also need socialization at this very young age. Leaving a puppy alone for many hours can hinder their development of socialization. Also, for a puppy it is imperative that they have socialization time throughout the day.
Alternative to getting a Puppy/Dog
If you have no alternative than to leave a dog alone for more then 8 hours, you should reconsider owning a dog. Prior to getting a puppy or dog, realizing how much time you have to spend with a dog and figuring out if you can afford someone to help take care of your puppy/dog while you are working is important.
A WONDERFUL alternative would be adopting a cat. Cats are very independent and easier to take care of. They can easily be left alone for up to 9 hours a day. However, consider adopting two cats, so they have each other for company and for playmates throughout the day.
Dog Fancy Magazine, 2011