While we’d love to spend every waking minute with our furry friends, life often gets in the way of unadulterated pet time. Whether for work, parties, or trips out of town, the call will inevitably come for your to leave your dog unsupervised. But how long should you do that before intervening?

dog looking sad laying on a living room floor

All dogs are different when it comes to time alone, and a number of factors should be taken into account when determining how much time to leave them for. Here are some tips for making decisions about leaving your dog home alone!

Consider your dog’s age

A dog’s age can be a helpful factor in determining how much time to leave your dog at home.

Fully grown adults are the most capable when it comes to alone time. Very young and very old dogs need more bathroom breaks across the board. Here are some tips for different age ranges.

Puppies can get away with an extra hour alone between potty breaks for every month of age (over 6 hours is not recommended for any dog of any age).

Healthy dogs older than one year can handle a maximum of 8 hours alone without peeing, but it is not recommended to leave them longer than 6 hours. Keep in mind that a healthy adult dog may need to go outside frequently for exercise, not just to use the bathroom!

Over 8 years old, and you’ll want to hasten visits to the bathroom. Depending on health and size, try to take an older dog out every 3-4 hours.

How is your dog’s mental health

Potty breaks are not the only considerable factor when leaving a dog home alone. Time at home without their owner can be incredibly mind-numbing. The physical health of a dog is tightly linked to their mental health, so mitigating boredom will pay off in a dog’s happy and healthy life going forward. Here are ways to fight boredom when you can’t be at home with your pup.

Toys, like treat filled “Kongs”, are like puzzles for your inquisitive and hungry pup.
Complex toys with noises and solvable problems can provide a fun experience for a dog while home alone.
Rotating toys frequently will change the home environment, and invigorate the experience of staying home without you!

Does your dog need exercise?

Dogs don’t only need outdoor time to pee, but to move their bodies and engage their minds. If you think a pee stain is bad, try dealing with the consequences of lack of exercise. Some dogs exhibit aggressive, anxious, and destructive behaviors when left sedentary for too long. These behaviors can include fighting, excessive barking, and tearing up furniture.

Knowing how much exercise your dog needs depends on their breed. Some dogs, like huskies, need a whole lot of time outside to achieve a healthy mental and physical state. Others, like Great Danes, can get away with less.

Do some research about your dog (online and observational), and make a generous determination about how much time they need outside each day.

Basically, every dog is completely different. Considering age, health, personality, and breed, there’s no way to create a catch-all template for keeping your dog healthy and happy. That said, ere on the side of more time engaged and outside. When all else fails with your personal schedule, consider a daycare or boarding service to get the job done for you at a reasonable cost!