How long is too long to leave a dog alone?

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Topic: How long is too long to leave a dog alone?

General Discussion September 16, 2014 at 12:06 pm

How long is too long to leave a dog alone?

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We have a tenant who regularly leaves her dog alone for very long stretches- regularly 12-16 hours but a few 24+ hour times. I love animals and do not have a dog myself because I know I am not home enough to give a dog the care it needs. I feel awful knowing there is a dog next door who is alone that much. I am trying to to determine if I am being overly concerned/nosy or if this is something that needs intervention. I read the DC regs on animal neglect and there are no clear definition around leaving an animal unattended. But it seems if he has access to food and water and is inside out of the elements, it’s not technically neglect. I have offered several times to let him out or bring him to my place when she is not home, but she has never accepted. So then I am just the nosy landlord, or is there something more I should/could be doing?

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I am a pet sitter. At my company we recommend that dogs be let out to use the restroom/go for a walk every 4 hours if they’re a small dog and every 6-8 hours if they’re a larger dog. Are you sure that the dog is being left alone entirely during this time? It could be that they simply have a dog-walker or sitter stop in briefly to walk/play with him?

Aside from being let out to use the restroom, being left alone for that length of period is not recommended for the pure fact that it can be hard on the dog’s mental health. But, that can vary from dog-to-dog (some dogs don’t mind, depending on their age and breed, and prefer to sleep much of the days anyways) and whether or not the dog has enough chew toys and other distractions to entertain itself. So, in short, as far as I know, it’s not legally considered neglect as long as the dog is still being cared for, but it’s not necessarily recommended. If it’s a few days out of the month in which the dog is being left alone for 24+ hours, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. If it’s 3-4 times a week, I’d be a little more concerned. As for 12-16 hours, as long as the dog has toys and is being let out to use the restroom, he’s probably content to sleep!

The Washington Humane Society might be able to give you a clearer sense of what’s considered serious neglect than I can though.

Hope that helps!


Thanks, Emma. He’s an older beagle. We are sure that he is not being let out by anyone because we see the alarm system log, and no one is entering/exiting. I also know that he is pooping and peeing on the floor because we had to access the unit once for maintenance. It makes me so sad for him and mad at her…

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