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Home > Dogs > How Long Can You Leave a Puppy Alone?

How Long Can You Leave a Puppy Alone?

pit bull puppy

Puppies develop quickly, and if you have a newborn litter at home, you will experience considerable changes in a short space of time. If you’ve just adopted a puppy, you will want to ensure that they are settled in properly and that they have everything that they need, including the opportunity to get used to their new surroundings and new family.

But you likely need to go to work or out shopping, there are plenty of other times when you might need to leave a puppy at home by themselves. Also, it’s beneficial to start training the habit at a younger age. So, how long can you leave a puppy alone?


Young Puppies

Very young puppies aren’t really reliant on their humans for care, but they are heavily reliant on their mothers, and their mothers need care and attention from you. Once your puppy reaches 3 or 4 weeks of age, they will have a bit more independence. However, while they might move away from their siblings to urinate and defecate, they won’t be going outside to use the toilet.

From the age of about 2 months and up to 3 months, puppies can be left for up to 2 hours, but they should not be left longer than this. This is especially true if you have a new puppy that has just left their mother. They won’t be used to being by themselves, can’t hold their pee for long, and can develop separation anxiety if left alone for too long or too often.

Newborn basenji puppies
Image Credit: Rosa Jay, Shutterstock

The One-Hour-per-Month Rule

By the time your pup reaches 3 months of age, you can adopt the 1-hour-per-month rule. This means you can leave your puppy for 1 hour for every month of their life. So, a 3-month-old puppy can be left for 3 hours, while a 6-month-old can be left for 6 hours. You shouldn’t leave a young dog for periods of longer than 6 hours.

Teaching Your Puppy to Be Alone

There will be times in a dog’s life when they need to be left at home alone. Whether it is a regular occurrence while you go out to work or if it happens infrequently, if your dog isn’t used to being left alone, it can lead to behavioral issues. It is a good idea to get your puppy in the habit of being left to their own devices for short periods from a young age.

Shaded English Cream Miniature Dachshund Puppy Sitting
Image by: Carolyn Dietrich, Shutterstock


Tips to Leave Your Puppy Alone

Whether you need to leave your puppy alone or are looking to introduce them to the concept, it pays to be prepared.

1. Tire Them Out

There’s an old adage that a tired dog is a well-behaved dog. It may not be entirely true but it should work with your puppy. Puppies, even those that are 6 months old, still need plenty of time to sleep, and this is especially true after they have had exercise. Play fetch to physically tire them out, or do some training to mentally exhaust them. You might find that they sleep the entire time that you’re out.

white puppy sleeping
Image by: Piqsels

2. Start Small

Don’t jump straight to leaving a 6-month-old dog alone for 6 hours. Initially, you should start just leaving the house and then coming back again. This teaches your puppy that you will always come back, which can help reduce separation anxiety. Next, walk to the corner and back. Once your puppy is okay with 15 minutes, try half an hour, then an hour, and so on.

3. Have a Designated Puppy Area

If you don’t have a crate, designate and shut off a single room or part of a room. It might seem cruel, but your dog will feel pressured to look after the house while you’re out. If they only have access to half a room,  there’s less space to manage. It also means that you can remove any items that you don’t want to be destroyed, just in case. Once your puppy is accustomed to being left, you can allow free roam of other areas of the house.

Beagle puppy in dog bed at home
Image by: New Africa, Shutterstock

4. Provide Toys and Activities

One of the reasons your puppy misses you while you’re gone is that a house can be really boring when there’s nobody in it. Provide puzzles and things like treat toys. Not only will these provide fun, but the activity can also take your puppy’s mind off the fact that you’re not home. You’ll be back before they’ve figured out how to get the last treat out of the Kong.

5. Pay Attention to Them When You Get Back

When you get back, you should avoid immediately paying attention to the dog. This can reinforce separation anxiety and it can lead to problems with jumping up when people walk in the door. However, once you’ve put your coat away and your keys in the bowl, it’s time to give your puppy attention and praise. Play fetch, do other fun activities, and make sure they have the chance to go outside because their excitement can lead to accidents in the house.

Woman holding adorable Brussels Griffon puppy indoors
Image by: New Africa, Shutterstock


How Long Can You Leave a Puppy Alone?

Puppies are dependent on you for food and time outdoors and for company and stimulation. When you go out, it can lead to separation anxiety, and while some anxiety is natural, you need to ensure that it isn’t overwhelming. Start small and gradually build up, but don’t leave young puppies longer than an hour or two. When they are between 3 and 6 months, you can leave them for an hour for each month of their life. Try to make sure you’re not gone longer than 6 hours, though, even with older puppies.

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Featured Image Credit: Jorge R Martins, Pixabay

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