Dogs are celebrated for their loyalty, companionship, and affectionate nature, endearing them to countless households. Yet, our bustling lifestyles often necessitate leaving our beloved pets alone due to work commitments, errands, or social obligations. Understanding the appropriate duration for which dogs can be left unattended is crucial to ensure their welfare and contentment. In this article, we delve into this subject, offering detailed insights and responsible pet ownership advice

Can dogs enjoy being alone?

Dogs can enjoy spending time alone if they are adequately prepared for it and provided with the right environment and stimulation. Some dogs may even find solace in moments of solitude, which can offer a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life. However, it’s crucial to strike a balance and ensure they receive enough social interaction and mental stimulation to keep them happy and content during their alone time.

Factors Influencing Alone Time

The suitable period during which dogs can be left alone hinges on various factors:


  • Puppies (8-16 weeks): These young canines demand the most care and attention. Their limited bladder control and boundless energy mean they should not be left alone for more than 1-2 hours at a stretch. In cases of extended absence, it’s advisable to consider enlisting the help of a pet sitter or a trusted friend or family member.
  • Adult dogs (1-7 years): Most adult dogs can endure being left alone for approximately 4-6 hours daily. Nonetheless, this timeframe may vary depending on breed, energy levels, and individual temperament. Prioritize providing mental and physical stimulation both before your departure and upon your return.
  • Senior dogs (7+ years): Aging dogs may necessitate shorter solitary intervals and more frequent bathroom breaks. Strive for no more than 4-6 hours of alone time daily, adjusting as per your dog’s specific aging-related requirements.


  • Different dog breeds exhibit distinct energy levels and temperaments, which significantly impact their tolerance for being left alone.
  • Independent breeds, such as Basenjis or Basset Hounds, may better withstand prolonged solitude.
  • In contrast, highly social and active breeds like Border Collies or Labrador Retrievers may struggle with extended periods of isolation.

Individual Temperament:

  • A dog’s unique disposition, molded by their past experiences, shapes their ability to cope with solitude.
  • Some dogs naturally possess greater self-reliance and comfort in isolation, whereas others might suffer from separation anxiety, leading to problematic behaviors.

Training and Socialization:

  • Adequate training and socialization play pivotal roles in a dog’s adaptability to alone time.
  • A well-trained and socially adjusted dog is generally more resilient in the face of your absence, fostering feelings of security and confidence.


Is it cruel?

Dogs are inherently social animals, thriving on interaction with others. Initially, solitude may seem unkind. Yet, dogs are adaptable creatures, capable of coping with life’s challenges. While they prefer companionship, they can endure periods of alone time. However, extended isolation should be avoided, striking a balance between their social nature and the practicalities of the real world.

Train your dog to be alone

Teaching your dog to be comfortable alone is vital in preventing anxiety. Start by leaving them alone for short, stress-free periods, gradually increasing the duration. Reward your dog for staying relaxed with toys, treats, or praise, using long-lasting treats to gauge their anxiety level. If they become anxious, backtrack and try shorter periods again. Progress by increasing distance and time gradually. Once your dog can handle an hour alone, they’ll likely adapt to longer periods. To prevent boredom and mischief, provide toys or activities. The aim is to make being alone enjoyable, associating it with positive rewards and building your dog’s confidence.

Guidelines for Leaving Your Dog Unattended

While there isn’t a universal answer to the duration for which dogs can be left alone, adhering to these general guidelines can ensure your dog’s well-being:

Separation Anxiety:

  • Dogs exhibiting signs of separation anxiety, such as excessive barking, destructive behavior, or indoor accidents during your absence, warrant immediate attention.
  • Consultation with a veterinarian or professional dog trainer is essential to devise a strategy for helping your dog cope with solitude.

Enrichment and Stimulation:

  • Irrespective of age or breed, all dogs benefit from mental and physical stimulation.
  • Supply them with toys, puzzles, and interactive feeders to keep them engaged during your absence.
  • Explore options such as doggy daycare or hiring a dog walker to break up their day.

Proper Preparation:

  • Before leaving your dog unattended, ensure they have access to fresh water, a comfortable resting area, and a secure environment free of potential hazards.
  • Keep harmful items out of reach and secure any escape routes.


What does my dog do when I’m not home?

Dogs’ reactions to your absence vary. Calm dogs often nap or lounge on the sofa. More energetic ones might misbehave, steal treats, or chew forbidden items. Dogs with separation anxiety may exhibit destructive behaviors, damaging furniture or valuables. To address this, gradually increase alone time, starting with short intervals. Dogs that can manage 4 hours alone should handle 8 hours eventually. Breeds like Basset Hounds, French Bulldogs, Chihuahuas, and Pugs are better suited for extended alone periods.

Leaving them alone for too long

Leaving your dog alone for too long can lead to a range of problems, including anxiety, stress and destructive behaviors. These issues can escalate, causing your dog to become restless and anxious, potentially leading to escape attempts. In extreme cases, if not addressed, these behaviors could indeed result in your dog running away in search of companionship or relief from their distress. 

Having a dog fence is essential for your pet’s safety and well-being, especially if you must leave them alone for extended periods. A dog fence provides a secure boundary that prevents your dog from escaping or running away due to stress or boredom. It not only ensures their physical safety but also allows for outdoor exercise and play, contributing to their mental and emotional health. A dog fence is a practical and responsible solution to provide a secure and controlled environment for your canine companion when you cannot be with them.

DIY Dog Fence

Avoid punishment

Avoid punishing your dog for misbehaving when you return home after being away. Separation-related behavior issues worsen when dogs associate punishment with your return instead of their earlier actions. Such punishment increases their anxiety, potentially leading to more chewing or toileting problems. Dogs don’t link your anger to past behavior, so scolding them is ineffective and can make them anxious. Instead, use positive, reward-based training methods. If you find a mess when you return, refrain from physical punishment or scolding. Keep your frustration hidden, and take your dog outside before cleaning up.

Doggy Daycare

If your dog dislikes solitude or you’ll be absent for more than 8 hours, consider enrolling them in a doggy daycare. These facilities offer the companionship and care your dog craves when you’re away. They ensure ample exercise, social interaction, and enjoyable activities, ensuring your furry friend remains content and engaged even during extended hours of your absence.


Comprehending the acceptable duration for which dogs can be left alone is pivotal for responsible pet ownership. Tailoring your approach to your dog’s age, breed, temperament, and specific needs is essential when determining their tolerance for solitary periods. By adhering to these guidelines and offering the requisite training, socialization, and mental stimulation, you can guarantee your dog’s well-being and happiness, even in your absence. 

Remember that every dog is unique, necessitating a keen awareness of their cues and flexibility in your approach to ensure a joyful, thriving, and well-adjusted canine companion.