Skip to Content

How long can you leave a dog alone? 5 Factors to be considered

When you’re going on vacation or leaving your home for a long time for any purpose, there are many important factors to consider before leaving. If you’re a dog owner, one of these considerations is what’s going to happen to your canine companion while you’re gone and how long you can leave your dog alone?

There are not only the physical needs of your pup you need to keep in mind; there are also mental and emotional considerations that need to be factored in. Below we are listing some of the essential factors that you need to keep in mind before leaving your dog alone.

How long can you leave a dog Alone?

1. Understanding How Your Absence Can Impact Your Dog

While most dogs will tolerate being left alone for a few hours a day, extended absences can play an impact on your dog. This negative influence is particularly true when outside stimulation isn’t offered (such as playtime, walks, or human interaction).

Just as humans wouldn’t do well locked into a specific, isolated location, dogs thrive in environments where all their needs are met. Dogs mainly risk suffering from separation anxiety when you leave them alone for a long period.

2. Age considerations of your pups needs

The age of your fur baby will directly influence how long you can leave your dog alone while on vacation. For example, young puppies will need almost constant supervision. Puppies will need to eliminate every four hours and can become quite destructive if left alone.

Older dogs can typically go between six to eight hours before needing to relieve themselves. Many adult dogs will begin showing signs of anxiety or stress if left for more extended periods. 

3. Breed considerations when leaving your dog

While some dogs are considered less dependent, it’s important to remember that dogs are social creatures by nature. They thrive in group environments, including their human companions as part of their pack. Dogs left without social interactions can become quite anxious and destructive.

You may notice soiling in the house, chewing, digging, or excessive barking while you’re gone. Drooling and panting can be another sign of anxiety in dogs that are left alone too frequently.

Working breeds like Labrador Retriever, Australian Shepherd, and Spaniels are prime examples of dogs requiring more attention than average.

4. Options for Care While on Vacation

Leaving your dog at home without supervision is never recommended. Dogs need daily access to clean water, food, exercise, and attention. When traveling for longer than eight hours, finding alternate care for your pup is a must.

Asking friends or family members to pet sit might sound like a good idea but pose a few specific problems. For example, a friend simply checking in on the dog once or twice a day can leave the dog feeling isolated and abandoned. 

You’ll also want to find someone willing to walk your dog a few times a day to provide exercise and provide a physical outlet for excess energy.

Make sure this person can change the dog’s water at least twice a day and provide love and attention. Whenever possible, it’s always easier to find someone willing to stay at the residence while you’re away. 

5. Finding Outside Care for Your Dog

Asking friends or family to care for your dog while you’re on vacation isn’t always possible. Whether it’s conflicting work schedules or simply too demanding, there are plenty of situations that may require an outside provider for your pup.

These services can be in-home or at another facility. For hired facilities, make sure you use a reputable service with good reviews. Dog hotels are different than boarding facilities, although both will care for your pup while you’re on vacation.

A boarding facility is often a large common area for dogs, with caged kennels for the animal to sleep in. These cages are fencing or metal material for easier cleanup. Some of these locations will have a draining system to ensure the kennels can be cleaned out or washed easily.

On the other hand, dog hotels will typically try to bring the comforts of home into a boarding facility. Hotels will offer private rooms with actual walls instead of fencing. Additionally, they will generally provide amenities like in-room feeding, televisions, bedding, and more. 

For anxious dogs, the constant stimulation of boarding facilities may prove problematic over extended periods (as it can often get quite loud in the facility). This continuous stimulation can impact their mental health with limited periods of rest. A boarding facility may be the more affordable option for dogs that don’t respond to stimuli or other dogs. 

You’ll want to look for a center that offers private sleeping arrangements, preferably with a bed and climate control. Climate control will keep your dog comfortable, regardless of outside temperature, especially in areas that have extreme heat or cold. Likewise, always choose a center that you feel comfortable leaving your dog with.