- Need to know what to do with a puppy when at work all day?
- How long can you leave a puppy on its own?
- Is it cruel to leave your puppy at home while you are at work?
These are widespread questions for pet parents. Let’s get some answers…
What to do With a Puppy When at Work All Day
You have three main areas to think about when leaving your pup alone for a longer period of time:
- Keeping the Puppy Safe
- Keeping Your Home Safe
- Keeping the Pup Fed and Watered
- Dealing with Their Potty Needs
- Keeping the Young Dog Entertained
Let’s look closely at each one of these points.
Keeping the Puppy Safe
Your top priority should be to keep the new puppy safe at all times and especially when you are not there to keep an eye on them.
So wherever you leave them, you must make sure that it is puppy-proof. They mustn’t be able to escape or chew on dangerous things such as cleaning chemicals, power cords, tools, etc.
A simple way of doing this is leaving them in a good-quality puppy pen. This is much nicer than a crate as they have more room to move about, stretch out, or play.
NOTE – Investing in baby gates can be a great idea when raising a puppy. They make it really easy to contain the dog in a safe area.
Keeping Your Home Safe
You know all those funny videos you see of guilty dogs as their owners come home and find destroyed homes?
Well, it might not be so funny if it is your home that gets destroyed when you leave a young puppy alone for too long!
Fortunately, the same precautions to keep the pup safe will also keep your home safe. Make sure you leave them a puppy-proofed room or a playpen.
Make sure they have plenty of chew toys to gnaw on, and they can’t get close to anything really valuable of yours to chew on it.
Keeping the Pup Fed and Watered
For water, a spill-proof bowl is a great idea, one that is heavy enough so that they can’t easily knock, tip or flip it over.
For food, if you give them a meal before you go out, then they should be fine for a reasonable amount of time.
But for longer periods, either you or some you know, such as a family member or puppy sitter, should pop in a give them a feed and some attention.
Dealing with Their Potty Needs
This isn’t just about protecting your home from the mess. It is also about the dog’s emotional well-being.
House-trained dogs will get stressed out if they can’t get to their potty area, and dogs that aren’t trained will get upset by making a mess of their own area.
So you if you want to leave a puppy alone, you need to think about their potty needs:
- Starting potty training as soon as you get them is essential.
- Use puppy pads when they are young, so they know where to do their business, and the mess is controlled.
- If you can’t get home to give them a potty break, see if you can find a dog sitter who can pop in and let the pup out to relieve themselves.
- Do not leave the puppy home alone for too long, especially where they are really young or not toilet trained.
Keeping the Young Dog Entertained
It is essential for the puppy’s mental well-being that they are not left for too long on their own with nothing to do, especially if they suffer from separation anxiety.
The longer the dog spends on its own while you are at work, the more important it is for you to keep them occupied.
- Make sure they have plenty of toys, chews, and bedding.
- Give them a blanket or an old piece of clothing that smells of you to comfort them when you are gone.
- If possible, pay a dog walker to take them out during the day for a potty break and some mental stimulation. Even the youngest dogs and smallest dogs will benefit from a quick outside trip.
NOTE – A good tip is to try and make the puppy tired before you leave for work.
If you can run them ragged with playful exercises for half an hour or so, it will burn off energy, and they will crash out in their bed when you leave the puppy alone.
How Long Can Your Puppy be Left Alone During the Day?
It all depends on the puppy’s age, how far on it is with its house training, how good a job you have done with puppy-proofing your home etc.
You should also build it up over time, so with really young puppies, just leave them for a half-hour at first and work up from there.
NOTE – An excellent way of entertaining your puppy is to give them a chew toy such as a Kong toy and fill it with peanut butter. They can spend a good hour licking and chewing away at it.
Is it Cruel to Leave a Dog While at Work?
Generally speaking, no, it is not cruel. However, it can be if it is not done in the right manner.
This all really depends on how old the puppy is, how well prepared you have made them and how trained they are.
If you follow the training tips in the article, if you start off leaving them for very short periods and extend it as they get used to being on their own, it is not at all cruel.
NOTE – A Puzzle feeder is a good way of keeping the new dog entertained for a while. Just pop some treats in it and give them to them as you leave for work.
Is Crate Training Cruel for Puppies and Adult Dogs?
It is understandable for some dog owners to be worried that keeping their puppies in a crate might be cruel.
However, when done right, crate training is a great way to get your puppy and adult dog accustomed to being left alone and confined for long periods of time.
So no, crating a dog is not cruel as long as you do it correctly, thoughtfully, and kindly.
What does that mean? Great question. In a nutshell, here are some pointers:
- Make sure you have put the effort in to crate train them, so they are well used to it before leaving them for any length of time.
- Make sure they are comfortable and have enough room to stretch out in the crate.
- Make sure they have access to water and are well fed.
- Do not leave them alone in their crate for too long without letting them out for potty breaks, exercise, and playtime.
NOTE – Puzzle toys are a great way of keeping the dog busy and make them less likely to chew things that they aren’t supposed to!
Training Your Puppy to Be left Alone in the House While You Work
In this video, YouTube superstar dog trainer Zak George and his stunning puppy Inertia (what a cool name!) explain how to train your dog up until they are ready to be left at home alone and able to roam freely around the house.
Some Final Thoughts
Dogs, like humans, are social creatures, and so as much as possible, they should be with other dogs or their humans.
However, if you have to work all day and have to leave them at home, you can do lots of things to make it much easier for them.
Toilet training is essential; safe toys to keep them occupied are great and can reduce destructive behavior.
Arranging for them to let out for bathroom breaks makes a big difference. Blankets or old clothing with your smell on it can reduce their anxiety. Keeping them in a safe, contained area reduces risk to them and your home.
Ok, that’s all for this post. We hope it helps you care for your new family member.
Please don’t forget that if you have to leave them during your work hours, make sure you give them some quality time when you get home to make up for it.