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 it is settled in properly and that it has everything it needs and has had the opportunity to get used to its new surroundings and new family before you leave it too long.
But, we all need to go shopping, many of us need to go out to work, and there are plenty of other times when you might need to leave a puppy at home.
What’s more, if you do work, you will need to leave the puppy alone when it gets older, and it is beneficial to start training the habit at a younger age. But this all begs the question of how long can you leave a puppy alone?
Very young puppies aren’t really reliant on their humans for care but are heavily reliant on their mums and their mums need care and attention from you. Once your puppy reaches three or four weeks of age, it will have a little more independence. However, while it might move away from its siblings to urinate and defecate, it won’t be going outside to use the toilet.
From the age of about two months and up to three months, puppies can be left for up to two hours, but they should not be left longer than this. This is especially true if you have a new puppy that has just left its mum. It won’t be used to being left alone, can’t hold its pee for longer than this, and it can develop separation anxiety if left alone for too long or too often.
The One Hour Per Month Rule
By the time your pup reaches three months, you can adopt the one-hour-per-month rule. This means that you can leave your puppy for one hour for every month of its life. A three-month-old puppy can be left for three hours, while a six-month-old can be left for six hours. You shouldn’t leave a young dog for periods of longer than six hours.
Teaching Your Puppy To Be Alone
There will be times in a dog’s life when it needs 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 its own devices for short periods before building up.
Tips To Leave Your Puppy Alone
Whether you need to leave your puppy alone or are looking to gradually introduce it to the concept, it pays to be prepared.
1. Tire Him 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 six months old, still need plenty of time to sleep and this is especially true after they have had exercise. Play fetch to physically tire him out, or do some training to mentally exhaust him. You might find that he sleeps the entire time you’re out.
2. Start Small
Don’t jump straight to leaving a six-month-old dog alone for six hours. Initially, you should start just leaving the house and then coming back again. This teaches your puppy that you will come home and can help reduce separation anxiety. Next, walk round to the shop. Once your puppy is OK with 15 minutes, try half an hour, and 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, but if it only has access to half a room, this means that there’s a lot less space to manage. It also means that you can remove any items 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.
4. Provide Toys And Activities
One of the reasons your puppy misses you while you’re gone is because a house can be really boring when there’s nobody in it. Provide toys and things like treat toys. Not only will these provide fun but the activity can 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 When You Get Back
When you get back, you should avoid immediately paying the dog attention. 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 some attention and praise. Play fetch, do other fun activities, and make sure he has the chance to go outside because his excitement can lead to accidents in the house.
How Long Can You Lave A Puppy Alone?
Puppies are dependent on you for food and time outdoors but also for company and stimulation. When you go out, it can lead to separation anxiety and while some anxiety is natural, you need to ensure 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 aged between three and six months you can leave them for an hour for each month of their life, and try to make sure you’re not gone longer than six hours even with older puppies.
Featured Image Credit: Jorge R Martins, Pixabay