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Leaving Dog Home Alone

Updated on February 20, 2016

Can you leave your dog alone at home?

Leaving pets, especially dogs home alone is a difficult decision but sometimes it is unavoidable. It is sometimes impossible or too expensive to find a pet sitter or a friend or neighbor to take care of your dog while you are away and even the most loving and responsible dog owners have to go away on business or short holidays once in a while, without their dogs.

Dogs are probably the most difficult of pets to leave alone at home for any length of time. They are extremely attached to their human owners, some breeds even prefer the company of humans to that of other dogs and they are also extremely dependent on their owners for their daily needs and activities, like walking, food and drink. Sometimes, depending on where you live, or if your dog is a young puppy or very elderly, it may be impossible to leave it on its own, even for very short time lapses. In this case, you will have to make other arrangements or refrain from leaving altogether.

Usually however, it is possible to leave your dog alone at home for up to a few days, provided you have taken all the necessary precautions for its safety and well being and that you have properly trained your dog to obey certain rules and behave in a trustworthy and responsible manner even when you are not present.

Photo credit:Ian

Leaving your dog alone at home? Important preconditions

1. Your dog must have access to a toilet area


The most important thing to keep in mind before deciding to leave a dog alone for even a few hours, is that you must give it easy and free access to a toilet area. A lot depends on where you live, on the breed, training, size and age of the dog. If you live in an apartment for example, leaving a dog alone even for a few hours might be a problem, because house trained dogs need access to a toilet area and will normally do everything in their power so as not to have an accident inside the house. With no access to a toiltet area however, dogs can only retain themselves for a few hours, a day at the most, less if they are puppies or senior dogs, and having to retain themselves can be very stressful for the animal, may cause potential kidney and other health problems and in any case, prevents you from leaving them alone for more than a few hours at the most.

If you have an outside area in your house that the dog may use for its toilet needs, like a garden, yard, patio or even a balcony, a doggy door is the perfect solution. There are many kinds and styles to choose among, from simple flaps to really weatherproof dog doors that will keep the elements outside your house while giving your dog the freedom to go out whenever it likes. If you are concerned with the security of leaving such an access to your house while you are away, especially with large dog doors that could be large enough for stray animals or even burglars to crawl in, you may also consider the option of electronically controlled security dog doors.

Dog doors are fairly easy to install with the use of very basic tools and teaching your dog to use it is fairly straightforward. It took our Golden Retriever two days to understand and master the new state of things and after that she couldn't be happier, going in and out on her own a hundred times a day, or so it seems to us!

Choose from a wide selection of dog doors available on Amazon. Click on the links for even more choices

2. Your dog must have enough food and water while you are away

Photo credit:

Dogs are greedy and clumsy. If you are planning to leave your dog alone for more than a day, leaving a huge bowl full of dry dog food and another huge bowl of water in the hope that it will last for the whole while you will be away, is not a safe option. For one thing, as I said, dogs are very greedy creatures and your dog will probably eat all the food as soon as you have turned the corner and go without food for the rest of the while. It will obviously not starve, but thinking of a lonely and hungry dog can be a very uncomfortable feeling for most caring dog owners. The other thing that might happen is that ants or other bugs and animals may find their way into the food and spoil it. A good idea if you are planning to leave your dog alone for more than a day, is to invest in a good, reliable, automatic dog feeder, which you can program to dispense food to your dog at whatever time you want it to.

The other problem, which can be even more serious than food, is the fresh water issue. As I said, dogs are greedy and clumsy creatures and your dog could either drink all of the water you have left at once and be thirsty and possibly sick afterwards, or it may turn over the bowl and spill the water and go thirsty...not a nice thought. Or, being so clumsy, it could dirty the water with bits of food or grass or dirt...not a nice thought either. Investing in a fresh water fountain will solve this problem and keep your mind at peace.

Automatic dog feeders and waterers ensure that your dog will have a supply of clean food and fresh water for as long as you are away. Click on the links for more buying options

More tips on leaving your dog alone at home

Having made sure that your dog will have easy access outside for its toilet needs and will not run out of food and water while you are away, you might want to consider some other things, less important for its health and safety, but quite essential for its well being.

1. Your dog is sad and lonely without you This is a fact. Don't expect your dog to enjoy your absence. You could make some provisions so that it will not feel so helpless and abandoned though. Even though you will not have somebody staying with the dog and taking care of it while you are away, it is a good idea and a safe precaution to ask a trustworthy friend or neighbor the dog is comfortable with, to visit every other day or so and make sure that everything is alright, that nobody has broken in, that the dog is not sick, that it has not had an accident or done something extremely silly. Make sure that this person has all your contact numbers as well as the contact numbers of your vet.

2. Help your dog feel your absence less Your dog misses you and it misses all the sounds and happenings of your being at home. Help it feel less lonely by connecting a timer so that one or two lights will go on in the evening. If you are especially caring, you could do the same with the TV, so as to provide comforting and familiar sounds and pictures for your dog while you are away. (And in case you are wondering, Yes! Dogs love watching TV!

3. Finally, get to know your dog before leaving it even for a few hours!. Every responsible dog owner knows and understand his or her dog. No two dogs are the same. Some are calm and trustworthy and will obey house rules even when their owner is not there to scold them. Others are more independent, harder to train, more agressive and unreliable. It is up to you, as the owner, to know when (if ever?) your dog is trained well enough and trustworthy enough to be left alone. Have you seen the movie "Marley and Me?"!!!!!

More Dog stuff on Amazon - Little things that will make you more comfortable leaving your dog alone at home

Ideal Pet Products 3-Panel Airseal and VIP Pet DoorReplacement Flap, Extra Large, 10.25" x 15.75" Flap Size
Ideal Pet Products 3-Panel Airseal and VIP Pet DoorReplacement Flap, Extra Large, 10.25" x 15.75" Flap Size

Ultra flex dog door flaps do rip occasionally but it's quite easy to replace them


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    • EngageFast profile image

      EngageFast 3 years ago


    • profile image

      SteveKaye 3 years ago

      Great ideas.

    • smine27 profile image

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      My dog is well behaved that there are a few times he were alone for two days. Of course he goes nuts once we get home!

    • RoadMonkey profile image

      RoadMonkey 3 years ago

      It may be hard to leave your dog for a few hours but consider the other person, if you try to take it to someone's house - the last dog that came to my house (uninvited on Christmas Day, when I had 15 people to feed) chewed the children's lego / duplo blocks and some had to be thrown out because they were too unsafe to use. We used to have a dog and we NEVER took it to anyone else's house. Mind you, there was usually someone in the house most of the time, so she seldom lacked company.

    • esmonaco profile image

      Eugene Samuel Monaco 3 years ago from Lakewood New York

      The longest our dog ever stayed home alone is while we were working. A couple times a week we would have some people come in and take him for a walk. Great lens with great idaes Thanks.

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 3 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      Interesting lens. I don't think I could ever leave our dogs home for more than a work day. Sounds so lonely for them and uncertain for me! We would usually have someone come and stay with them.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 4 years ago from New Zealand

      Yes it's a shame that sometimes dogs have to be left a home alone, they can do a lot of mischief if not happy.

      Great Lens. Blessed.

    • BartsBestBizIdeas profile image

      BartsBestBizIdeas 4 years ago

      With the HIGH expense of Kennels these days, the ideas here may offer a good alternative for some...I would try leaving for just a day, then 2, then 4 gradually building up and seeing how my pet reacts....It's easier to ask a neighbor to check in on the pet once every 3-4 days for 2 weeks as opposed to EVERY day.

    • tlc1210 lm profile image

      tlc1210 lm 4 years ago

      I could never leave my dog home alone for more than a few hours. She is great while I am gone but she is my baby and I start to miss her. If I am away on vacation, she goes to grandmas.

    • randomthings lm profile image

      randomthings lm 4 years ago

      Very interesting ideas here. It is a difficult decision to know when to leave one's dog home alone. I feel bad just leaving my dog home alone while I'm at work. For that reason, I have difficulty going out after work and leaving her home alone more time. Very interesting thought provoking thoughts you have here. Thanks!