How Long Can Dogs Be Left Alone Without a Bathroom Break?

Leave your dog home alone with an indoor potty area.
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The downside of the housebreaking process is something every dog parent has to deal with, but coming home to find a smelly or wet surprise on the floor is really your fault, because you neglected to tend to your furry pal's needs. To prevent constant cleanups, properly train your dog and learn how long he can hold his waste -- and if you can't be there for him, take steps so he can still relieve himself.

The Age Factor

A good way to gauge how long a puppy can stay home alone without making a mess is to use a common formula based on age: Add 1 to his age in months for a rough estimate of how long he can hold his bladder. For instance, a 3-month-old puppy might be able to hold his bladder for about four hours. Mind you, small breeds have small bladders and might have to go sooner. At the age of 6 months, gauging this duration won't be necessary, because from here on your dog will most likely be able to hold his bladder for up to nine hours. This is the maximum even for adult dogs -- he'll feel urgency before that, so you shouldn't make your pet companion wait nine hours just because he should be able to.

Confining Your Dog

Crate-training is a common method for house-training a dog, but locking a dog in a crate all day is not advised by veterinarians, behaviorists or advocates. You can use the crate to teach the dog how to hold his bodily movements, though, because dogs dislike soiling areas where they live and sleep and eat. Crate-training has a specific protocol, whereby you gradually introduce the dog to spending time in the crate. If you want to be successful, you'll follow it. After training, the dog will wait to go outside even without confinement to the crate. If you can't come home to walk your dog, confine him to a small area with his opened crate, toys, food and water. If the space is not too confining, add a potty area that consists of newspapers or a wee-wee pad. That option allows your dog to relieve himself without needing you.

No Need to Fear, the Dog Walker Is Here

If your ultimate goal is to have your dog do his business outdoors, paper-training your dog can become an obstacle, because you now have to unteach this behavior. Another option is to hire a dog walker to walk your pet companion when you can't be there. Your dog will get to do his business outside and will eventually be fully housebroken. Additionally, your dog can enjoy the companionship and attention of the dog walker and get some exercise, instead of being confined indoors until you get home.

It's All About the Training

How long your dog can go without a bathroom break really depends on his training. An untrained dog will go potty the moment he has to go, regardless of where he is. A trained dog might have learned to use a designated indoor potty, or if he's on a set schedule, he might hold it till he's taken to a designated outdoor potty. When training your dog, it helps to recognize signs, such as sniffing, whining and circling, which indicate he has to go potty. You can then direct him to a designated potty. Consistency, praise and rewards are essential to reinforce his behavior.

Things to Consider

Establishing a regular routine for your dog makes the housebreaking process easier, because both you and your dog will get used to regular feedings and play and potty time. If your dog often has accidents indoors even though you're regularly taking him to go potty, have a veterinarian examine him. Sometimes medical conditions, such as kidney disease or a urinary tract infection might be to blame. If your dog is 9 or older, take into consideration that he might not be able to control his bladder the way he did when he was younger.