How Long Can You Leave a Puppy Alone?

How Long Can You Leave a Puppy Alone?
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Dogs are highly social and super affectionate animals, they love being around their favourite humans to receive love, attention and lots of fun play to keep them entertained, that’s why they enjoy being close to their owners all the time.

However, this might make you think about how long you can leave a puppy alone, especially while they are young and still developing. Luckily for you, we go into everything you need to know about leaving a puppy alone.

How long can you leave a Puppy alone?

Coming to the actual question at hand, let’s discuss how long you can leave your pup alone? 

The duration for which pups can be left alone depends greatly on the puppy’s age in question. 

A puppy that is under 10 weeks of age should never be left alone for more than 1 hour. At this age, puppies are highly sensitive to solitude, and if they are left alone for longer than an hour it can seriously affect their mental well-being.

Puppies that reach the age of 12 weeks can be left alone for longer than an hour as, at this age, they become more aware of their surroundings and are better able to entertain themselves. Puppies that are 12 weeks old can be safely left alone for up to 2 hours.

A 3-month-old puppy becomes somewhat capable of caring for itself. They also develop self-awareness and are able to understand whether actions or things are safe for them, or how they can protect themselves. A 3-month old puppy can be alone for up to 3 hours.

Puppies that are older than four months old are even more capable of taking care of themselves and keeping themselves entertained on their own for long periods. A 4-month-old pup can be safely left alone for 4 hours.

Beyond 4 months of age, dog owners can start trusting their puppies and leave them alone for even more extended periods. You can add one additional hour of being left alone per every one month increase in your puppy’s age. 

How long should you leave a puppy alone for the first time?

This depends on your puppies age, however, as a rule of thumb, assuming the puppy is under the age of 10 weeks, they shouldn’t be left alone for more than an hour. Puppies at this age are very reliant on receiving attention, whether that’s through human contact or by socialising with other puppies and dogs.

Puppy alone
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At what age is it OK to leave a puppy alone?

As a rule of thumb, we wouldn’t suggest leaving a puppy that’s under 12 weeks old on its own for any period of time that exceeds 15 minutes. Puppies have very sensitive bladders and they struggle to hold in their pee and poop, so if you were to leave them alone, the chances are, it’s very likely that you would return to an accident on the floor.

Puppies also crave attention when they aren’t asleep, they want to be loved, played with and kept busy, so you should try and entertain them as much as possible.

Once your puppy has grown and exceeded 12 weeks, you can start to leave it for short periods of time, whether that’s to pop to the shop or to leave the house, but they shouldn’t be left any longer than an hour.

If you do decide to leave your puppy, you should see if someone else is able to look after them during your absence, like a close friend or family member. This way there is always someone with the puppy.

How long can a 5-week old puppy be left alone?

As a rule of thumb, we wouldn’t suggest leaving a 5-week old puppy for any longer than an hour.

The length of time they can be left increases with age, but at 5 weeks, they are very reliant on being around other puppies and their owners to learn critical social skills. As puppies are prone to separation anxiety, especially in the early weeks of their lives, it’s not recommended to leave them alone for too long, as they will become very sad, upset and possibly, depressed. This will impact their actions and ability to socialise in later life.

Puppy left on it's own
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Can I leave a puppy alone at night?

Yes, you certainly can and leaving your puppy alone at night is a little different to leaving them alone during the day, as this is their chance to rest and have some “me time”. Just like us humans, we like to wind down after a busy day and be able to sleep the night away in peace and this also applies to puppies regardless of their age.

Puppies that are often walked and played with will be very tried and therefore, leaving them alone at night will get them a chance to snooze the night away and catch up on sleep.

However, as puppies have very small bladders and can’t hold on to their wee or poop for long, we recommend taking them outside before they sleep so they can relieve themselves. In the early stages when the puppy is between 8 and 12 weeks, you may need to take them to the toilet during the night, otherwise, you can expect to wake up to an accident!

As the puppy ages, they will be able to control their bladders and increase the length of time between each toilet break. If you decide that you would like your puppy to sleep with you, this is also something you will need to consider, otherwise, they may relieve themselves in your bed and this won’t be a great experience for anyone!

Can I get a puppy if I work full time?

Adopting a puppy is a huge decision to make as you naturally become responsible for a very small, delicate, and affectionate life. Adopting a puppy can also cause several changes in your day-to-day life, as puppies younger than 3 months require attention.

Picture of puppy
Photo by Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash

They don’t understand the world around them and therefore rely on you to care for them. Now doing all this might become hard given your job and career. That’s why we recommend puppy parents hire an experienced dog sitter or employ the services of a daycare centre.

This will allow you to work your 9 to 5 job normally while ensuring that your pup is well taken care of at the same time.

You shouldn’t decide to welcome a puppy into your home and leave it alone for extended periods in the beginning. If they were left, they would be very lonely and this will impact their mental well being and it wouldn’t be fair on the puppy. Before you decide to get a puppy you should consider your circumstances.

What should I consider before I leave a puppy alone?

Puppies seek love and attention all the time, just like us humans did when we were babies, we rely on other objects and people to entertain and love us. This is the same for puppies, they crave attention.

Before leaving your puppy you should consider the length of time that you can leave them for, this will depend on their age, however, there are other factors that you need to consider before leaving them:

  • Their little bladders and how long they can go without weeing or pooping;
  • Remove any objects that could cause harm to your puppy;
  • Whether your puppy will cry out loud or wine, if you live in an apartment, this could cause stress to those living around you;
  • Making food and water accessible to them;
  • Give them a toy or treat to keep them entertained while you are away;
  • Have a radio play ambient music while you are away, this will help reduce the feeling of loneliness.

These steps will help keep your puppy safe while they are alone without you and make sure that they are well entertained.

How long is normal for a puppy to bark when left alone?

This is normal behaviour, especially in the beginning when the puppy is left alone for the first time. You can expect your dog to settle and stop barking within half an hour after they are left alone, and in time, they will settle even faster. However, some dogs may not settle at all won’t ever get used to you not being around. Some dogs simply cannot relax while their owner isn’t present.

It can take time to adjust your dog’s behaviour but with patience and the correct training, it’s possible to get them to stop barking when they are left alone. Most dogs settle within a few weeks but very special cases will require careful training.

How do I stop my puppy barking when left alone?

Training your dog to not bark when you aren’t there is a tedious task, but with patience, the problem can be addressed.

What you should do:

  • Consider leaving things behind when you leave your puppy alone, this could be dog toys or a safe chew to keep them occupied and distracted;
  • Consider leaving an interactive toy that they can play with to pass the time, this could be a puzzle;
  • Leave the radio or television on in the same room as them, this will help reduce the feeling of loneliness;
  • Leave a piece of clothing behind that you have recently worn, your dog will be able to pick your scent and this may help ease their anxiety knowing that a piece of you is nearby.
  • Consider installing a camera so you can watch your puppy while you aren’t home, this will help ease any anxiety on your side and will help ensure that they are safe while you are out;
  • Make sure the area is safe for them and there are no potential dangers nearby;
  • If your dog barks at cars that drive by, wildlife or people, you should consider restricting the view to the outside world;
  • Give them plenty of water and food nearby encase they are hungry, some dogs may bark if they are hungry or thirsty;
  • Uninstall or turn off the doorbell while you are out, as some dogs get very anxious when they hear this. Your dog will be very frightened if the doorbell is used while you aren’t home;
  • Provide them with a comfy place to sleep – you should strive to make their bed a fun place to be;
  • Avoid eye contact when your dog barks, if they know that they have your attention, this could encourage them to bark in the future in the hope that they get a similar reaction.

What you shouldn’t do:

  • Try not to react to your puppies barking because if you do, this could encourage future episodes as they know they will get attention if they bark. However, you shouldn’t leave your puppy for too long and you should ensure that they are safe at all times;
  • Give them praise or attention when they bark, this includes giving them treats or saying praise words;
  • Shout at your dog or tell them to stop barking, this will only frighten them;
  • Keep them in a location that they aren’t familiar with while they are left alone.

How to train a puppy not to bark when they are left alone

In order to train your puppy not to bark while they are alone, you should consider training them. The puppy needs to understand that when you aren’t nearby, there is nothing to worry about and they aren’t in any danger. You can do this by leaving the room for a few seconds and then going back to them, at the same, rewarding them for quiet, calm behaviour.

At first, leave the room for a few seconds and then gradually increase the time between each time you leave, and eventually, you can change it up and leave the house. Over time, they will understand that you will eventually come back and that there is nothing to worry about.

Can I get a puppy if I work part time?

Yes, you can but you need to understand that raising a puppy takes a lot of commitment and most importantly, patience. It can be a very tedious process to raise a puppy during their first couple of weeks, as you will need to take them for regular toilet breaks outside and teach them basic training commands, like sitting, teaching it its name and teaching it how to stay.

If you work, you may want to work fewer hours while you raise your puppy during the first couple of weeks, or decide to work from home so you can spend time with them and teach them the basics.

If you decide to get a new puppy and leave it at home, it will only make the training process difficult, while also upsetting your puppy and making them feel very lonely.

Can you leave your pup alone? 

As mentioned earlier, pups younger than 3 months old need constant care, and therefore you should never leave young pups alone. Puppies older than 3 months old can be left alone, but you must train your puppy first to make them used to spending time without you being around.

Start leaving the puppy completely alone in the house for small time intervals. Start with intervals of 5 minutes and then gradually increase the time interval. That will help your puppy understand that you will return and that they are only alone for a small-time period. Puppies fear that their owner may not return and this can cause anxiety and depression which will impact their overall wellbeing.

Make sure to provide enough treats to your pooch during training so that they remain completely calm while being alone. This will make your pup accustomed to living without you for limited periods, and they will understand that they are rewarded for being left alone and waiting patiently for their owner to return.

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