I just got a new puppy. She’s doing great, but I go back to work in a few weeks and I’m nervous about leaving her home alone. How long can I realistically leave her alone without doing permanent damage to her (kidding/not kidding)?
New Puppy Parent in Timbergrove
Dear New Puppy Parent,
Congratulations on your new addition! Having a new puppy can be the most adorable, but also the most nerve-wracking, patience-testing part of pet ownership. Puppies require so much time and work but the payoff is amazing. The mere fact that you’re already planning for your return to work and concerned about your puppy’s well being tells me all I need to know about who you are as a pet owner (and a human!). Thank you for caring about this sweet creature in your care.
Now, let’s break down your question a bit:
A rule of thumb
The American Kennel Club has some guidelines to help you to determine what is a reasonable amount of time to leave your new puppy alone. Here’s what the AKC suggests:
“As a guideline, new puppies up to 10 weeks old typically can’t hold their bladder for more than an hour. Dogs between 10 to 12 weeks old can usually hold it for around two hours. Once your dog reaches three months old, they can usually hold it for an hour for each month they’ve been alive. After six months, dogs can usually hold it for up to six hours. However, even adult dogs shouldn’t be home alone for much longer than six to eight hours without a chance for a bathroom break.”
Teach her to be alone
Crate training is really the way to go when you have a new puppy and plan to leave them home alone. It’s important to make their crate a safe space for relaxing and never a place for punishment. Experts recommend feeding your dog in her crate and giving her special toys and treats in there as well. This will help to reinforce the idea that the crate is a great place to be and will make it easier to leave her in it when you go to work. Plan to either come home in the middle of the day or find a pet sitter who can come over to give her a potty break while you’re at work. This will help her to be comfortable and give her a chance to run off some energy.
What about older dogs?
Once your puppy gets older, she won’t need to go to the bathroom quite as much during the day. Using your judgment, you can determine how long you can safely leave her alone. But, once dogs get older, then they often have to go to the bathroom more frequently again. This is when you might have to revisit the idea of a midday trip home or working with a pet sitter.
As always, use your judgment and keep your dog's comfort and health in mind when determining what is right for your dog. Every dog is different and requires a different schedule, so put on your “patience pants” and work hard to find a routine that will work for both you and your dog ahead of your return to work.
PET OF THE WEEK
Meet Cherry! This retriever mix is all ears when it comes to hearing if you might be the right family for her. Cherry is about 5 months old, super smart and happy…oh, and did you happen to notice those ears? Cherry is working hard to learn her house manners and is responding really well to some basic training. To learn more about this sweet girl, go to www.cap4pets.org.
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