boxset boxer basset on couch

Owning a dog can limit how much time you spend away from home because your pet relies on you for food, walks, and companionship. Dogs are social, and many of them love the company of their owners and don’t like to be away from them for long.

If you are a new dog owner or are considering getting a dog, you may be wondering how long you can leave them alone. After all, you’ll need to leave your house eventually, and you can’t bring your dog everywhere with you.

The answer is different based on a few factors. Ideally, a healthy adult dog should be left alone for no more than 6 hours. But your individual dog will determine the actual amount that they can be left at home without you having to rush back to them.


Puppies need the most care and attention, so they should not be left alone for long periods. Generally, puppies can hold their bladder for 1 hour per month of age. A 4-month-old puppy should be able to hold their bladder for 4 hours and so on.

Consider this when you’re getting a puppy. Many people have jobs that require them to be gone for 8–10 hours a day. If you leave a puppy alone for that long, you are bound to come home to potty accidents in the house. While you may be fine with this, it can hinder your housebreaking training and set you back in any progress that you’ve made.

This doesn’t mean you can’t get a puppy, though! Consider asking a friend or relative to come by during the day to give your puppy some company and a potty break. You can also hire a dog walker to do this or bring your dog to doggie daycare as soon as they are old enough and fully vaccinated.

shih tzu puppy sitting on a couch
Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Adult Dogs

Adult dogs should be left alone no more than 4–6 hours, although some can be left for up to 8 hours if they’re used to the routine and are healthy. Some dogs can adapt to this schedule, but they should not be crated for this long of a period.

Experts have different opinions on the maximum amount of time that you can leave an adult dog alone. You have to consider your dog’s age, activity level, breed, size, and health.

Dogs with separation anxiety should not be left alone for long periods. They will become anxious and panicked when you’re away and may destroy things in the house, refuse to eat, become withdrawn, or urinate inside. You can try to work with your dog to help them overcome this condition, but the longer you leave them alone, the worse they will react. A trainer or pet behaviorist may be able to help you ease your dog’s distress.

If you have a highly active dog breed, like a Husky or Australian Shepherd, they may grow bored when they’re alone and find ways to entertain themselves, like causing destruction.

While the rule for how long to leave dogs alone can vary on an individual basis, it’s always best to leave any dog alone for the shortest amount of time possible. If this can’t be done, consider hiring a dog walker or asking a trusted friend to keep your dog company.

Senior Dogs

Senior dogs may be easier to leave alone because they are less energetic and used to having time to themselves at this point in their lives. They know the routine, understand it, and may even enjoy spending the day getting uninterrupted sleep.

The problem lies in their health. Senior dogs may experience dementia that causes them to become confused and scared without you. Some senior dogs can’t hold their bladders for long periods anymore. Others need to take medication at certain times that fall during periods when you’re out of the house.

Consider your dog’s needs, and see if you can adjust your schedule to accommodate them.


The amount of time that you can leave a dog alone varies depending on your dog’s age, health, breed, and demeanor. Puppies should not be left alone for more than a few hours at a time, depending on their age. Adult dogs can be left for 4–6 hours without an issue, usually. However, some adult dogs may be able to be left alone for longer periods if they’re healthy and used to the routine. Senior dogs may need more care and potty breaks, so they shouldn’t be left alone longer than necessary. If you must leave your dog of any age alone for longer than 4 hours, consider hiring a dog walker or asking a friend to come by and visit them. They can walk them, spend time with them, feed them, and give them any necessary medication so you don’t have to worry about them while you’re gone.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock