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How Long Can You Leave Your Dog Alone While On Vacation? Facts & Alternatives

Kathryn Copeland

By Kathryn Copeland

Sad dog waiting alone at home. Labrador retriever looking through window during rain

Going away on vacation can be a truly exciting time. But when your family includes a dog, figuring out what is best for them can be stressful. You may be able to bring your dog with you for certain vacations, but there are times when it just isn’t possible.

If you are only leaving for a short time, you might have wondered for how long you can leave your dog while on vacation. The answer is that leaving your dog alone while you’re gone is definitely not okay.

Here, we cover the different options available for you and your dog so you can enjoy a stress-free vacation knowing that your dog is being well looked after.
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Alternatives to Leaving Your Dog Alone While on Vacation

The option that you choose for your dog will depend on what will work best for your pet and the kind of budget that you have. Keeping your dog happy while you’re away is paramount, not only for your dog but also for your peace of mind.

Also, with today’s technology, it’s so much easier to check in with your pup and ensure that they are doing well.

1. Ask a Roommate

If you are on good terms with your roommate(s), it’s worth asking them for help. Your dog will get to be in a familiar place with a familiar person, and depending on your dog, it might be a low-maintenance responsibility for your roommate. You may need to offer to pay them, whether in cash or chores, but it should be less expensive than many other options.

dalmatian dog and her owner playing outdoor
Image Credit: Stenko Vlad, Shutterstock

2. Ask a Family Member

A cheap option is to ask your family to look after your dog while you’re gone. If your dog is comfortable with a specific family member, that would be the ideal situation.

Your dog can stay with them at their home, or perhaps they can come to stay at your place and be a house sitter in addition to being a pet sitter.

It would be ideal if your dog could remain home among familiar surroundings and smells. Most importantly, though, they should be comfortable with the person looking after them.

3. Ask a Good Friend

If no one in your family can look after your dog, think about asking your friends, particularly someone your dog is familiar with and likes.

They can stay with your dog at home, or your dog can stay with them. You might need to offer to pay depending on your friend, but it might still be a cheap option in addition to your dog feeling comfortable with the arrangement.

Image Credit: Reshetnikov_art, Shutterstock

4. Check With the Neighbors

If you have a good relationship with your neighbors, your dog likely knows them too. Also, since they are so close to your home, it would be more convenient for them to either stay at your place or have your dog stay at theirs.

You probably need to offer to pay or if they have pets, to return the favor someday. Regardless, your dog will get to be in familiar surroundings with someone they know.

5. Hire a Pet Sitter

Hiring a professional dog sitter is a great option, but it will definitely cost more than the previous suggestions. You can find a pet sitter through different companies, like the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters or Rover, which enables you to find someone in your area who has been rated by other pet owners.

You can have them stay at your home the entire time or have them pop in for feeding and walking. How much work they do will affect the price, so if you want a house and pet sitter who will water plants and generally take care of your home in addition to your dog, it will cost more.

Additionally, if your dog has any health conditions or behavioral issues, you will need someone with experience handling these situations, which will also cost extra.

6. Board Your Dog

Boarding your dog can have a few benefits but also a few disadvantages. Boarding can be your dog staying with a pet sitter at their own home or a facility.

There are various steps that you should take to ensure that you’ve picked the right facility for your dog. You can ask your veterinarian or groomer for recommendations, but bear in mind that this option will likely be the most stressful for your dog. Still, it might be the best option if your dog needs special care.

dogs playing at a dog boarding kennel
Image Credit: Jayme Burrows, Shutterstock

7. Take Your Dog With You

This is not always an option, and traveling, especially if it’s by airplane, can be quite stressful for your dog and for you. The simpler the trip, the easier it can be to bring your dog along.

Weekends away, camping, and hiking can work if your dog is outdoorsy. It should also be fine if you’re visiting a family member for an event, and they don’t mind your dog coming along. Just consider your dog’s temperament and how you think they might react to the trip.

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Preparing Your Dog for Your Departure

If you opt for a boarding facility or pet sitter, you’ll need to introduce your dog to them before you leave. Your dog should be introduced to the pet sitter at least a few times so they will feel more comfortable around them. If you’re going with boarding, you’ll need to bring your dog to the facility (or house) so they can meet the staff and become familiar with the sounds and smells.

Check what the rules are regarding vaccinations and anything else that you’ll need to be prepared for. You will also need to provide anyone looking after your dog with specific instructions, such as what they eat and special care information—anything that will make things easier for your dog and the carer.

If your dog is not staying in your home, ensure that you bring along a few of their own things. Favorite toys and blankets and something of yours that smells like you can be helpful. Ensure that your dog’s information on their ID and microchip is up to date, and spend some quality time with them before you leave.

When you’re leaving, your dog will pick up on your mood, so try to remain calm and confident. You can also speak to your vet for any advice and tips that they might have that can further help your dog, particularly if they suffer from separation anxiety.

dog with a stuffed animal soft toy lying on bed
Image Credit: enchanted_fairy, Shutterstock

How a Dog Might Feel When Left Alone

For some dogs, being left alone would probably be the worst thing that could happen to them. Many dogs have separation anxiety, even when their owners are only gone for a few hours.

Experts have found that after owners leave, some dogs spend about half an hour whining, barking, and howling. For other dogs, this can go on for hours. Some dogs will also urinate and defecate, and others will engage in vomiting, self-mutilation, salivating excessively, and repetitive behavior. Dogs start to learn the cues that you’re leaving and may start to act out even before you’ve walked out the door.

So, beyond the obvious reasons that dogs can’t be left alone because they need exercise and food, they are also social animals. Some breeds are tremendously independent, while others are incredibly dependent, so it’s crucial that they aren’t left alone for a long time.

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Now you have the answer to can you leave your dog at home alone while on vacation. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to have everything in place for your dog before your departure. You will need to find the right person and ensure that they meet your dog a few times, and you’ll need to get everything together, including instructions and any special food or medications.

Don’t make a fuss when you drop off your dog and when you pick them up. Remain calm at all times. It doesn’t matter which care method you go with; you just must have something set up for your dog—leaving them alone is not an option.

Featured Image Credit: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock

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