How Long Can You Leave a Lab Puppy Alone? Know the Facts

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As we think about getting our next Lab puppy, one thing we have to consider is spending more time at home in the beginning. Potty training is an obvious reason why, but there’s a developmental aspect as well. So, how long can you leave a Lab puppy alone?

You can leave a Lab puppy alone for 4 hours at most once it reaches 4 months old. At this age, your pup will have complete bladder control. For puppies under 3 months, you should not leave your pup alone for more than an hour per month of age.

There are so many factors to consider before leaving your puppy alone. Potty training and accidents are the obvious reason. However, there are mental health and developmental aspects that you may not have considered that I’ll discuss in this article.

Chocolate Labrador puppy with family.

Guidelines For Leaving A Puppy Alone

Leaving your puppy is a gradual process and shouldn’t be done abruptly. You shouldn’t leave your dog for longer than 8 hours a day without a dog walker or dog daycare. 

When it comes to puppies, the issue of leaving them alone is even more contentious. Good morning exercise, toilet breaks, and interaction are essential for your lab puppy to keep mentally and physically fit.

Puppies are usually curious and will indulge in all manner of mischief if left alone. A lab puppy loves companionship and will suffer both physical and emotional trauma when left alone.

Why You Shouldn’t Leave a Puppy Alone Too Long

As explained earlier, the unique temperament of lab puppies means that they always want to stay around human friends. Of course, there’s a consequence when you leave your lab puppy alone for very long.

Labradors will get lonely when you leave them alone for long periods. Leaving your lab puppy alone for very long typically results in consequences and destructive behaviors like chewing on shoes or furniture and restlessness from lack of exercise. This violent behavior is called separation anxiety.

Symptoms of Separation Anxiety in Puppies

Separation anxiety occurs when your dog is upset or unhappy because of your absence. When your dog only expresses the following behaviors when you are not around, it is most likely from separation anxiety. The symptoms include:

  • Urinating and defecating. If your dog soils the house with urine or feces only when you are gone, it could be a result of separation anxiety.
  • Chewing and destruction. Your dog may exhibit some distress by chewing up fixtures and fittings at home. They become destructive, frantically digging and scratching at furniture.
  • Barking and howling. Excessive barking and howling when you are not around can be a result of separation anxiety.
  • Trying to escape. If your dog is in a crate or pen, it might become desperate and attempt to escape, which can result in injury.
Sleeping black Labrador laying on the tile.

How to Teach a Lab Puppy To Be Alone

You must teach your puppy how to be alone, especially if your job demands that you stay out of the house long. Puppies need a lot of attention and will become opposed to being left alone. 

This aversion to being left alone can result in destructive behavioral traits. Fortunately, you can help them get over these behavioral traits by doing the following:

1. Use a Crate or an Exercise Pen

It is essential to teach your puppy how to be alone while it’s at an early age and while you are in the house. You can use a crate or an exercise pen, as long as it’s a small area with gates.

The goal is to associate the region as a happy place rather than punishment. The pup will soon get too used to the area, even without your presence.

2. Build Time Spent in the Confinement Area Slowly

Once your puppy has become comfortable with the crate or pen, you can start leaving them alone for short periods. 

It will be hard for them initially, but you can gradually start with a few minutes and add more hours. It is crucial to avoid giving in to your puppy’s demand when they whine about coming out.

3. Keep Your Puppy Busy While in the Confinement Area

Give your pup something to chew on, such as a chew toy or other edible chews and treats to prevent boredom and destructive behaviors. Remember only to leave safe toys and avoid objects that can fit wholly into your puppy’s mouth or those that can’t splinter.

My go-to chew toys that LAST:
Kong Classic chew toy for large dogs (Molly still has the same one we purchased on 10/16/2017!)
Kong Classic chew toy with Easy Treat peanut butter spray (so much easier than using a knife)
Kong tug of war toy (her absolute favorite)

4. Provide Background Noise

Leaving the TV on or playing soothing classical music is another way to provide excellent company for your puppy. Find stations that will have calm programming, such as a nature channel or talk radio, to avoid loud sounds that may frighten them and cause anxiety. 

Labrador puppy with a chew toy.

5. Use a Puppy Sitter

You can consider asking your friend or a neighbor who will be happy to help you watch your dog or hire a professional pet sitter who can help with training the puppy. You can also schedule evening walks with your dog to help it catch up on time it didn’t spend with you.

6. Exercise Your Dog

Indulging in energetic play or a walk before you leave will leave your puppy tired and make it fall asleep. Do not limit exercise to only when you are about to leave so your puppy doesn’t associate the activity with only when you are going out.

When this happens, rather than falling asleep, your puppy will worry over your absence. Your puppy needs at least two hours of exercise which you can spread throughout the day.

Tips To Help Puppy-Proof Your House

Before leaving your dog at home alone, you should thoroughly puppy-proof your home to keep your puppy safe from dangerous objects. Here are some helpful tips that would help make the environment safe enough for your lab puppy:

  • Keep toilet lids closed so they cannot drink out of the toilet or fall in.
  • Keep human food or medication away. These items can be dangerous and poisonous to your puppy. Avoid keeping them on low tables or places your puppy can easily access.
  • Unplug electrical cords. Your puppy can chew on electrical chords, leading to electrocutions and burns in the mouth. Keep them out of reach by using a cord concealer.
  • Put away dangerous items. Keep small items such as coins, jewelry, and paper clips that your puppy can choke on. Sharp objects such as knives, scissors can also be dangerous to your puppy. 
  • Tightly cover garbage cans. The smells coming from the trash cans will attract your puppy and can lead to poisoning from eating through items.

Final Thoughts

The maximum number of hours you can leave your puppy alone depends on their age. As they continue to grow, you can begin to add the time to suit their present needs.

So for us, we have decided it would be best to wait until summer to add our new puppy. That way the kids are home from school, and the chances of needing to leave her completely alone will be minimized. That does, however, mean no vacations unless she comes along.

Now that could be fun!

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