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How Long Can You Leave Your Dog Alone?

Owning a dog requires following a schedule. You organize your work hours, social events, and chores based on when you can be at home. If you're like me, you sometimes give up going outside because you leave your dog alone.

Dogs enjoy the company of their humans, but that doesn't mean it's bad or dangerous to leave them home alone. Read on to learn how long you can leave your dog alone and tips for making their time at home safe and enriching.

Consider Bladder Condition

The first question for most people considering leaving their dog at home alone is: How long can my dog ÔÇőÔÇőhold the toilet? According to experts, dogs usually need to urinate three to five times a day. However, the timing of toilet breaks varies from dog to dog, and puppies and older dogs need more frequent breaks.

Estimated times for how long dogs can hold their toilet needs, listed by age group, are as follows:

  • Puppies: one hour for each month, depending on their age (for example, a three-month-old puppy can hold urine for three hours)
  • Adult dogs one year and older: no more than eight hours, but ideally no more than six hours
  • Senior dogs eight years and older: two to six hours, depending on size and health

Of course, the above estimates vary depending on the dog's size, health, and habits. But any dog ÔÇőÔÇőthat has to hold its urine for too long is at risk of urinary tract infection and stones or crystal formation. Also, holding urine for long periods of time is just uncomfortable and can lead to accidents at home.

For safety and comfort, take a bathroom break every four to six hours. Because standard workdays last eight to ten hours, if it's not possible to take your dog out at home during your lunch break, hire a dog walker for worry-free care.

Exercise is Important

Besides toilet breaks, your dog needs physical activity during daylight hours. Regardless of your dog's energy and fitness level, exercise allows them to:

  • stay healthy
  • digesting food
  • adapting their minds
  • burn calories
  • Avoiding boredom (and the destructive behaviors that arise from boredom)

Individual exercise needs vary depending on your dog's age, breed and health level. Herding and sporting dogs often need more intense and prolonged activity; low-energy breeds and older dogs can get by with less activity ( source ). But every dog ÔÇőÔÇőneeds to stretch its legs several times a day.

In general, healthy dogs need about 60 minutes of moderate activity each day, but it doesn't need to be constant. Before leaving your dog alone for a long period of time, take them for a brisk walk or play session for 20-30 minutes to expend their energy. In this way, the time they spend alone will be more relaxing.

Also, some playtime during the day (with you or the dog walker) will help break up the day and, of course, spend quality time in the evening when you're home!

If your dog acts anxious or destructive after being left alone, he may need more frequent and intense exercise. Talk to your veterinarian to determine an ideal fitness routine for your dog.

Mental Activity Is Also Important

Apart from how long a dog can hold his urine or how much exercise a dog needs each day, mental activity is also important to keep your best friend healthy, happy and well-mannered. Puppies and young dogs need more enrichment than adult dogs, but all dogs need some level of mental stimulation throughout the day ( source ). Otherwise, they may become bored and even exhibit destructive behavior when left alone.

Whether it's a training session, an exciting neighborhood walk, puzzle feeder or indoor games, enriching activities help your dog stay healthy and can balance their alone time.

All dogs are different and some can tolerate more alone time than others. But every dog ÔÇőÔÇőneeds periodic toilet breaks, exercise and mental stimulation. If your work schedule requires your dog to spend most of the day alone at home, consider hiring a reliable house sitter to give your dog a break.

A dog walker or sitter can provide the activity your dog needs during the daytime and help you feel comfortable while you're away. This way, the time you spend with your dog when you return home will be much more satisfying!

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