Leaving a puppy alone during the day is doable, but you have to do it right.
Puppies need much more supervision than adult dogs, which limits you when it comes to leaving them alone.
In fact, young puppies shouldn’t be left alone for longer than two hours at a time!
So remember to take that into consideration. Unfortunately, many of us have to work outside the home.
As much as we’d love to stay home cuddling our puppies all day, someone has to keep food on the table (and dog food in the bowls)!
Today, we’ll talk about leaving a puppy alone during the day, and what you need to do to make it safe and successful!
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Leaving a Puppy Alone – Considerations
One of the most important things to remember about puppies is that they aren’t just miniature dogs.
They require extra supervision, time, and potty breaks.
They can also be destructive little buggers when they’re bored or scared, so you have to have a game plan.
Let’s check out a few tips that will make it a little easier to leave your furry new family member alone during the day.
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1. Crate training
One of the best things you can do with any dog is crate training, but it’s especially important if you’re leaving puppy alone all day!
It allows you to safely leave your pup home while you work or run errands. Understand that you can’t just toss your puppy in the crate and walk out the door for long periods, though.
You need to make the crate a safe place that your puppy loves to be in. That way when you’re gone, he will still feel safe and secure.
Crate training also cuts down on destructive behavior as well as preventing potty messes throughout the house, both while you’re home and away. Make sure to add some items in their crate to make them feel comfortable, such as toys, blankets, etc.
You can also use a special treat that you only give pup when he’s crated up. Stuffed kongs and other treat-filled puzzle toys are great for this purpose. Just make sure you stuff it with something that’s safe for your pup. Peanut butter is a good option (as long as it’s xylitol-free).
Looking for more tips? Check out our guide to the do’s and don’ts of crate training!
2. Time Limits
You can only leave a puppy alone for so long. Leaving a puppy alone for short periods of time (about 4 hours) is doable. Leaving a puppy alone for a long period of time, like 8 hours straight, though? Definitely not the best idea!
Those little guys have smaller bladders and less control over those bladders than adult dogs.
When leaving a puppy alone during the day, you’ll need to either have a friend stop over every 2 to 3 hours to check in on your pup, take him for a walk and give him bathroom breaks or hire a dog sitter.
Otherwise, your puppy either gets very uncomfortable, makes a potty mess all in his crate, or both.
If you do need to hire a dog walker, you’ll want to make sure they’re trustworthy. Handing over your house keys and your dog can be a little terrifying.
I suggest talking to your veterinarian, family, and friends for recommendations. Before you hand over those keys, ask for references (and actually check them).
You can also go through a service that runs background checks. It may sound extreme to get a background check for a dog walker, but remember, they’ll have access to your home.
By the way, if you’re planning on leaving a puppy alone at night, you absolutely want to hire a pet sitter.
That is unless you work night shifts and get your pup used to that type of schedule, in which case the other rules apply.
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3. Choose a Good Spot
If you decide not to go with the crate training route, you’ll want to find a safe confinement area for leaving him at home alone.
It’s not a good idea to give your pup free reign of the house while you’re gone. Not only is this completely unsafe for your pup, but also for your valuables!
Puppies chew by nature, and when they’re bored or scared, they chew even more.
When leaving a puppy alone at home without a crate, opt for a laundry room, mud room, or gated kitchen area (you can use baby gates to set up the area).
These areas make puppy-proofing easier because they almost always have tile, which is easy to clean in the event of a mess. Make sure you block off or unplug any dangerous wires that your pup could chew.
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4. Food and Water
You shouldn’t leave food down when leaving a puppy alone.
You shouldn’t leave food down when leaving a puppy alone. In general, you want your puppy to be on a feeding schedule. In addition to the importance of keeping them on a schedule, it controls how often they have to defecate.
You’ll want to leave water for them, however. Just refer to the time limit section above.
If you’re crate training, make sure you put the water in a bowl that isn’t easily spilled. You don’t want your pup sitting in a mess for hours.
Even if you’re opting for a gated room, you still want to make sure your pup can’t dump his water bowl.
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5. Practice Safety
Just like toddlers, puppies get into everything, so when leaving a puppy alone at home, you’ll want to be sure everything is secure before leaving a puppy alone at home for the first time
Even if your puppy is crate trained, on the off chance that the door isn’t secured or he gets out, you’ll want to ensure that he can’t get into anything dangerous.
Just as you would with a baby, protect your pup by installing baby latches on cabinets and ensuring that anything dangerous or toxic is kept up and away from exploring mouths and paws.
You can even add an extra layer of security by putting the crate inside a puppy pen that’s set up in a pet-proofed safe area. It sounds like overkill, but it’s better to be over-safe than sorry.
For more tips on this subject, read our puppy proofing your home article.
6. Use a pet camera to keep an eye on your pup
Cameras are great for giving us pet parents a little peace of mind when we’re leaving our pups home alone. They ease our worry by letting us “pop in” on Fido and make sure he’s not barking, chewing the house apart, or injuring himself while in his crate.
There are a ton of different options, and they’re not all terribly expensive. You can find a few pet cameras for under $50 that let you see, hear, and talk to your pint-sized pal throughout your workday.
If you have a bigger budget, cameras like Petcube even let you reward your pup’s good behavior by tossing him a treat!
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Leaving a Puppy Alone is Doable
It’s important to have everything in place when leaving a puppy alone during the day.
Just make sure that your puppy is in a safe environment free of dangers and toxins, and that you leave him in his crate or an area that is easily cleaned.
In other words, don’t try leaving your puppy alone outside. It’s always better to crate-train or leave him inside somewhere safe.
In addition, be sure either you can get home in an hour or two or that someone else can. If you do that, you should be okay. If you can’t, though, it may be better to consider hiring a pet sitter or sending Fido to doggy daycare.
Do you work outside the home? Give us your favorite tips for leaving a puppy alone during the day!
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