Are You Worried About Leaving A Puppy Alone With An Older Dog

Are You Worried About Leaving A Puppy Alone With An Older Dog?

Last Updated: August 18, 2023
correct answerThe Short Answer is:

A puppy can be left alone with an older dog, but this is not something that should be rushed. The process will need to be gradual, you will need to be very patient, and you will need to not lose too much confidence when things go wrong, because they always will, and that is just part of it.

In this article you will know the answer to the query “Are You Worried About Leaving A Puppy Alone With An Older Dog?“.

You might have just gotten a new puppy or you might have changed jobs recently and now you are facing the prospect of leaving a puppy alone with an older dog?

Are You Worried About Leaving A Puppy Alone With An Older Dog

Are you wondering if this is possible? Maybe you are wondering whether you made the right decision.

There is good news here – it is absolutely possible but it would not just happen overnight.

You have to work hard to achieve this but it will be worth the effort when you have a closer bond with your dogs as a result.

Lets begin by considering a bigger issue- leaving dogs alone at home.

Leaving dogs alone at home

I would like to look at this issue from two perspectives. 

First of all the recommendations from the most influential dog charities in the United States and the United Kingdom. When should dogs be left alone and for how long?

Here are some results of a few surveys (there are not that many) where dog owners have actually stated how long they leave their dogs home alone.

In the UK the RSPCA (a very large animal charity) says that dogs should not be left alone for longer than four hours. 

In spite of this the AKC (perhaps the most prominent dog organization in the US) believes that a dog can be left for up to 8 hours. 

However these recommendations are for adult dogs – dogs older than 6 months of age.

Puppies younger than 6 months old should be left at home for much shorter periods of time because their bladder control and ability to “hold it” is not as good as older dogs’.

Puppy owners should leave their puppies for an hour every month that they are old.

Therefore a puppy three months old can be left for three hours a four-month-old can be left for four hours and so on. 

Those recommendations are all well and good but what actually happens to dog owners on a daily basis?

In a survey of UK dog owners in 2019 21% said they felt it was okay to occasionally leave their dog home alone for 24 hours or more.

39% of respondents said that they left their dogs alone for more than 7 hours a day during the week.

The dangers of leaving any dogs home alone

Researchers studied what dogs who are left alone at home experience. 

When it comes to dogs separation anxiety is overused. Dogs do not suffer from separation anxiety when left alone at home as many articles claim.

Anxiety caused by separation from a family member describes dogs who are very attached to one member and display self-injurious behavior when separated from that member. 

Dogs who are left alone at home experience isolation distress which is a milder form of worry. Some research suggests that up to 80% of dogs suffer from this condition. 

Howling destroying furniture and toileting are examples of these behaviors. 

Whats more? The presence of another dog as the company will not ease separation anxiety or isolation distress and it could make it worse. 

It is because panicky feelings are caused by missing a special person and can only be eased by their return. 

The dangers of leaving a puppy with an older dog

Therefore one of your concerns is leaving a puppy alone with an older dog. 

Leaving an adolescent dog or middle-aged dog with an older dog or two middle-aged dogs together isnot the same as leaving them together.

What are some special considerations to be taken into account?

We discussed just now that puppies cannot be left alone for as long as an older dog can.

The puppy has a short attention span and likes to play a lot which dogs of other ages might not. 

In particular an older dog who is used to having some “alone” time!

What can go wrong

Property damage

Injuries to dogs 

Neighbors upset

6+7 Tips for Success

The following tips will help you make home alone time with your puppy or older dog a success.

Then I provide five more tips that relate directly to how you should arrange your home and the space you will leave your dog in.

1. Build Up to It

If you wish to leave an older dog or a puppy alone you will need to build up to it over time.

Watch how the two dogs interact by spending a bit of time with them at home or on a walk.

It will take time for them to get used to each other.

The process of getting to know you and finding your place in the pack will take about a month.  

It may take even longer if a young dog is introduced to a senior dog. 

Many people forget that an important element of this settling-in period is for both dogs to recognize you as the pack leader.

In order to do this both dogs should be trained separately. Dog obedience training encompasses far more than obedience alone. 

You can strengthen and improve your friendship with each dog by using this method

Behaviors to watch out for

Guarding of resources

Chewing in a destructive way

2. Baby Steps

After the introductions and the dogs are interacting nicely with each other it is time to think about leaving your two dogs alone.

It will take time to complete this process. 

Do not expect to leave the dogs together for more than a few hours on day one. 

Begin by leaving them alone for a few minutes and then gradually increase their alone time over a few days and weeks if possible.

3. Exercise

I find this topic to be of utmost importance. Just as you should make sure that your dogs have something to do when they are home alone make sure that they have walked before you leave home.

Puppy and older dogs will certainly have different “walking” requirements so it is imperative to meet each of their needs.

In addition to physically tiring them out (and you need to be careful not to over-exercise a puppy) walks also allow them to go to the bathroom and to stimulate their senses by exploring their surroundings. 

4. Use Outside Help

If you will be out of the house for an extended period- and by this I mean more than six hours or even four hours if you are based in the UK- you should either ask or pay someone to look after your dogs.

You might have a family member who lives nearby who can take your dogs out for a short walk and feed them if they need it or perhaps your neighbor would be willing to do so?

I remember when my mother-in-law would take our oldest dog Bumps for a walk in the middle of the day when she was a puppy. 

This was a hit with both of them. My mother-in-law got to spend time with a gorgeous golden retriever her favorite breed of dog and Bump got some quality time with another person.

The benefit of this is twofold. In addition to reducing your anxiety it will make your dogs happier and calmer since they will get a “fix” of human attention. 

If you are looking for a dog walker or pet sitter in your area there will be plenty available. 

5. Technology

Is there any aspect of our lives where technology is not recommended?

You can use home security cameras that are reasonably priced and of good quality.

Besides being cheap many of them have three other essential qualities for dog owners.

Many have “live view” which will enable you to connect to them live at any time via an app on your phone so you can see what your dogs are doing in real-time.

Secondly most of them include two-way audio which allows you to talk to your dogs if necessary.

Thirdly these cameras will all record short video clips whenever they see your dogs moving.

These snippets can help you build up a picture of how your dogs behave when you are not around. It will help you identify any problem behaviors that you should focus on specifically during obedience training. 

Prepare your home

Preparing your home is the next most important element of successfully leaving your dog alone.

This has several important components.

1. Separate Space or Together Space?

Are your dogs able to be left together while you are out or will they need a separate space?

Consider getting some kind of dividing barrier so that they can still see each other if they need a separate space. 

2. Plenty of space

Dogs need plenty of room but not unlimited space. 

While you are out dogs will not lie down in a single spot to sleep. Most dogs will change positions repeatedly while sleeping. 

So it is critical to give them space so that they can have a couple of dog beds and a place to explore. 

3. Use paper or pads for potty training

Leaving a paper or pad-covered area for potty training or toilet accidents is another important part of the setup.

Ultimately you are leaving a puppy and a senior dog alone so one or both of them may have to go. 

Because dogs are naturally clean animals a space away from their beds where they can go to the bathroom should be prepared  

4. Leave Fresh Water

It is essential that your dogs have access to clean freshwater. 

You can avoid the mess caused by accidental spills and slobber by getting a non-spill bowl. 

5. Don’t Leave Food

In the same way that you should make sure that your dogs always have access to clean water you should also steer clear of leaving them any food.

This will depend partly on how long you intend to leave them and if they will be separated or sharing a space (if the dogs are in separate areas leaving food will be easier).

Other factors related to food need to be considered as well. If your dog eats dry kibble it is easier neater and less smelly to leave that than a can of wet food!

6. Provide Entertainment

You will need to entertain your dog while you are away. Hide some food in different places or get a Kong toy to chew on. 

You can also use this wobble toy (bob a lot wobble toy) to get them thinking.

7. Get Rid of Temptation

Get rid of anything that the dogs might destroy in the space. That includes furniture carpets and countertops. 

When you are away from home items such as shoes on the floor or food containers on a countertop will be much more enticing to a dog than if you are there.


I understand that this post contains a lot of information and helpful tips but I hope that you havenot become overwhelmed by it.

A puppy can be left alone with an older dog but this is not something that should be rushed.

The process will need to be gradual you will need to be very patient and you will need to not lose too much confidence when things go wrong because they always will and that is just part of it. 

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Amanda Dogs Trainer

Amanda (Author)

With over a decade of experience, Amanda is a distinguished dog trainer. Her expertise in canine behavior has transformed countless lives, fostering harmonious human-canine connections. Through compassionate and personalized approaches, she empowers owners to understand and connect with their furry companions, creating a legacy of joyful tails and transformed lives.

Osvaldo Maciel Dogs Trainer

Osvaldo Maciel (Content Reviewer)

Osvaldo Maciel, a stalwart in the field with 14 years of experience, is a revered dog trainer. His journey is defined by a profound understanding of canine behavior, shaping unbreakable human-canine bonds. Osvaldo guides owners to connect with their beloved pets, leaving an indelible mark of happiness and transformation. His legacy shines through the countless lives he has touched.

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