How Long Can You Legally Leave a Dog Alone in the UK?

dog home alone

Having a dog as a pet is a responsibility and as a responsible pet owner requires being aware of limitations and rules.  One of these responsibilities is proper care and consideration for the dog. 

Leaving a dog alone for extended periods of time is sometimes necessary as people have certain obligations such as work, and errands that would require an inevitable absence from a dog.  So how long can you legally leave your dog alone?  Unfortunately, the dog laws in the UK don’t specify the exact amount of hours that it is legal to leave your dog alone, but they do provide suggestions based on the age and health of the dog.

This article will provide you with recommendations on what is an acceptable length to leave your dog alone, and the certain variants that alter the time periods that will keep your dog safe and healthy.

Is It Against the Law to Leave a Dog Home Alone in the UK?

It is not against the law to leave your dog home alone in the UK. However, there are laws regarding abuse and neglect.  Leaving a dog alone for too long could be considered abuse and neglect.  The UK dog laws frown upon those areas and hefty fines, jail time, or removing a dog from the owner, are all possibilities.

The PDSA suggests that 4 hours should routinely be the longest a dog should be left home alone.  Though, depending on the dog, the age, and the health, those hours can vary.  For instance, an energetic puppy should not be left unattended for long periods of time as they have greater needs.   An older dog might be better adapted to being left alone longer if they are provided food and water and are not prone to separation anxiety.

According to the RSPCA, you should never leave a dog alone long enough for them to become distressed.  A distressed dog will develop unfavorable habits such as extensive barking, destroying property, or having continuous accidents.  It’s imperative not to punish a puppy or dog because of these behaviours as they are already in a state of stress and doing so could worsen the behaviour.

Is It Ok to Leave a Dog Alone While at Work?

Most people have to work and leaving your dog home alone while you’re at work is sometimes necessary.  However, it’s important that you provide a dog with necessities such as food and water, a safe space, and perhaps some toys to keep it occupied in your absence.

A dog who is outside in a fenced yard with shelter can remain alone for longer periods of time as it has a place to relieve itself.  A dog kept inside does not have that option, therefore you’ll need to consider a routine, and the dog’s bladder.  Puppies and senior dogs need to routinely relieve themselves more often than say a middle-aged dog in good health.

Furthermore, if your work day is 12 hours and your dog is kept inside the house, you might want to make alternative arrangements.  Perhaps return home on your lunch break, have a friend or family member tend to your dog, or hire a dog walker.

Can You Leave a Dog Alone for Days?

You should never leave a dog alone for days without making proper arrangements.  Leaving a dog home alone for 2 days or any amount of days would be considered neglect and abuse.  UK dog laws are strict when it comes to the abuse of animals resulting in fines or jail time.

If you are planning a holiday, or even in the event of an emergency where you have to be away from your dog, make arrangements with a pet sitter, or kennel your dog at a facility.

Though there isn’t a specific law for a set of hours that your dog can be left home alone, consideration of the animal’s well-being is a must.  Common sense and good judgment are part of being a responsible pet owner.  If you cannot commit to these two rules, then maybe owning a dog is not right for you. 

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