How to Leave a Dog Alone for 12 Hours – Smart Dog Mom

How to leave a dog alone for 12 hours 

If you are a dog owner as well as work outside the home, likely you may be wondering how to leave a dog alone for 12 hours.

Most jobs require 8 hours, and if you add the commute time, and perhaps you need to run an errand or two, then at times, it could equal 12 hours you’d have to leave your poor pet at home alone. So, how can you handle this dilemma?

Actually, it isn’t fair to the dog to leave it alone for so many hours every day, so you should try to find ways to help break up the boredom and stress, or perhaps you shouldn’t even get a dog if this is the way their life is going to be all the time.

How to leave a dog alone for 12 hours

Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Some dogs may be fine being left alone for several hours, but a lot of them suffer from separation anxiety. These pups sometimes even tear up things or make messes or even go to the bathroom since they can’t hold it for that length of time.

This is a serious problem and is not just boredom, the dog is actually stressed out to the point of acting out.

If your dog is suffering from separation anxiety they may exhibit some of the following behaviors:

  • Pacing, whining, and shaking as you are getting ready to leave the house
  • Excessive howling or barking while you are gone
  • Urinating or defecating in the house
  • Chewing, digging, or tearing up things in the house
  • Drooling or panting excessively
  • Trying to escape from the house, i.e. breaking out a screen to get outside

So, how can you help your dog not to suffer from separation anxiety? Well, if you can’t get out of your long work hours, try some of the following:

Crate Training

Crate training is very helpful for a lot of issues like potty training and separation anxiety, etc. You start by putting the dog into the crate for a few mins, then give a treat or toy.

Then you gradually lengthen the time the dog is in the crate. Many dogs see the crate as their den and even like being in it.

When you are home you can even leave the door open and he may voluntarily go in it to sleep or relax.

If nothing else, being crated prevents the dog from being destructive, though it won’t fix things like barking, etc.

Plus, some dogs get more stressed out in a crate, so you have to consider your dog’s personality and figure out if this is the solution that will work for you.

Desensitizing your Pup

One thing that may work is showing your dog that separation can bring him some sort of reward, so he comes to know that when you are gone, he will get something good when you return.

With this you start leaving the dog for a few mins, and then give a treat, and gradually lengthen the time you are gone. You always give him a treat or toy and praise him when you get home.

Lots of Exercise

Another method is to tire out the dog so he likely sleeps a lot of the time you are going to be gone.

If you have a good walk or play session right before leaving, your dog may suffer less stress and be more calm while you are gone.

Leave a Toy

Interactive toys are also useful when leaving a dog alone for 12 or less hours. You can get puzzle toys that the dog has to work with to get the treats out or a Kong toy which you can fill with peanut butter.

This gives the dog things to do with their time, as well as getting a tasty treat reward for their trouble.

Medicating your Pup

Using medication all the time likely isn’t a great solution, but if you are desperate you can try it.

Some require a prescription from your veterinarian or you can try homeopathic supplements. Always consult with a veterinarian before giving your dog any sort of medication or supplements.

What about a Dog’s Bathroom Needs?

If you have to leave your dog for up to 12 hours at a time, you have to consider if he is mature enough to hold his bathroom needs that long.

For instance, puppies likely cannot do this!  Their bladders are tiny and they need to go to the bathroom several times a day.

Statistics also say the average adult dog needs to go at least every six hours, so this means leaving them for 12 hours is not the best thing for your pet.

Perhaps you can either come home for lunch and let the dog out to go to the bathroom and run around a few mins to get some exercise.

If that is not an option, you could get a neighbor you trust to do it or hire a pet sitter to do it.

Handling a dog’s Loneliness

Another issue to consider if you have to leave a dog alone for 12 hours is if they will get lonely. Dogs are social animals and conditioned to live in packs.

They normally don’t like being alone for long periods. So, what can you do to help them not be so lonely?

One thing is to leave the TV or radio on in your absence, in fact, there is even a special channel called Dog TV you could subscribe to for your pet to listen to that is supposed to help with separation anxiety and loneliness.

As stated earlier, you also can leave puzzle toys for them to play with as well as make sure they have a nice dog bed to relax in if they get tired.

Or, if you can, you can come home from work and play with them for a little while or get a neighbor or pet sitter to do it. There are also dog walking agencies you can hire to take your pet on a long walk while you are at work.

Another idea is to put your dog into a doggie daycare! Yes, there is actually daycares for dogs. This way the dog is not alone for 12 hours and gets to interact with other dogs and people. You can check out the costs and see if one is in your area.

Another idea is to see if you can work from home part of the week, then your dog won’t have to be alone for 12 hours. This remote style of work has gotten more common since the Covid 19 pandemic when people couldn’t go to work in person.

Do’s and don’ts of leaving a dog alone 12 hours

Even if you are able to try out some of the above solutions, there are definitely some dos and don’ts in leaving a dog alone up to 12 hours. For instance, one don’t is don’t stay away from any longer than necessary.

You can’t just all of a sudden get a dog and leave them 12 hours the next day. You must gradually get them used to being alone for that length of time.

It just isn’t fair to the dog to have to hold its bladder for that long and can cause medical problems too.

Plus if you do leave them alone, make sure to dog-proof your home. For instance, do things like put covers on electrical cords, keep trashcans hidden or make sure it has a sturdy lid, keep things like medicine or cleaning supplies locked up out of reach, and keep valuables like your electronics out of reach.

All these are accidents waiting to happen, so don’t put the temptation right in front of your pup’s nose!

As stated earlier, do keep the TV or radio on for your pet to provide background noise, but make sure it is on a channel like Dog TV or Animal Planet or a station with soothing music so your dog doesn’t get even more agitated.


The bottom line is you need to be patient with your dog and teach them how to be alone for up to 12 hours.

If possible, try to be home within about 8 to 9 hours, since that is the time range most adult dogs can hold going to the bathroom, but if not then training them to stay alone longer is necessary for your dog’s mental and physical good health.

You can do this via providing the dog lots of toys, rewarding them when you get back, giving them lots of exercise prior to leaving the house, setting up the same routine everyday so the dog knows what to expect, and making sure your pup gets lots of love when you are home.

Owning a dog is not a toy you can just play with from time to time and forget it. You must consider that it is a living creature that needs love, attention, and proper care.

So, yes a dog can be trained to stay home for up to 12 hours, but do your best to lower that timeframe as well as following some of the above solutions.

You Might Also Like:

Sharing is caring!

Dog trainer, Author & Life coach at

Leave a Comment