Dear Tabby,

I’m going back to the office soon (after working from home for over a year) and I am concerned about leaving my dog alone. I sometimes work long hours and I don’t like the idea of leaving her in the crate all day, every day. How long is a reasonable amount of time to leave a dog alone?

Going back to the office in Oak Forest

Dear Going back to the office,

What a loving pet owner you are to take your dog’s needs into consideration when going back to the office! I know that this adjustment might be a little difficult for you, but rest assured there are ways to make the transition back to the office easier on your pet.

While there is no magic answer for how long you should leave a pet by themselves, there are some guidelines you can follow.

Depends on age

Puppies require more care, so it’s advisable that you not leave a puppy alone for too long. Their bladders are smaller and they need more frequent potty breaks as well as meals. So, if you have a puppy at home, you’ll want to provide accommodations for either yourself or someone to come in a couple of times during the workday to let the puppy out to use the bathroom and to give them some playtime breaks. Also, remember that a bored puppy can tend to be destructive, so have plans in place to protect your dog and your belongings from chewing.

Consider crate

A dog who is kept in a crate will probably require a break during a long workday to stretch her legs. Experts recommend about four hours in a crate as the maximum time for an adult dog. While crates can look confining and jail-like to us humans, for dogs, who are (at their core) den animals, having a place (like a crate) to go to sleep and rest can provide comfort--especially when the humans are away.

Know your dog

Many dogs are fine on their own all day (provided they have a way to access the potty, food and water), while others require more care during a long workday. The idea is to know your own dog’s needs and accommodate her as best you can. Pet sitters are an invaluable resource for helping you to have peace of mind and for your dog getting the care she needs while you're working hard at the office. If your dog requires lots of attention and craves socialization, doggie day care might also be a good solution for your pup.

Good luck on your transition back to the office and kudos to you for putting the needs of your dog high on your list of back-to-work priorities. It might take a few tries to find the best solution for you and your dog, but with her best interests in mind, I feel certain you’ll find something that works nicely for you both.

Do you have a question for Tabby? Email her at

POTW Hanna

Pet of the Week

Meet Hanna. After eight years in a home, Hanna was brought to the shelter due to her family being unable to care for her. It took Hanna awhile to adjust, but now she’s coming out of her shell and showing her adorable personality. Hanna is VERY chatty and loves pets and attention. She would prefer a home without other cats and is ready to find a forever lap of her own. To learn more about Hanna, go to

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