Skip to Content

Can a puppy be left alone overnight?

Leaving a puppy home alone overnight is a controversial topic among dog owners and trainers. There are many factors to consider when deciding if it is safe and appropriate to leave a puppy alone for an extended period of time.

How old should a puppy be before being left alone overnight?

Most experts agree that puppies under 16 weeks of age should never be left alone overnight. At this young age, puppies need constant supervision and companionship from their human and littermates. Being isolated for long periods can lead to behavioral issues down the road.

Here is a general guideline for the minimum age to leave a puppy alone overnight:

  • 8 weeks: Absolutely not. Puppies still with their mother and littermates.
  • 12 weeks: No, too young without littermates or people.
  • 16 weeks: Maybe, if all needs are met and duration is less than 8-10 hours.
  • 6 months: Probably ok for full night, once housebroken.
  • 1 year: Most puppies at this age can handle being left overnight.

Keep in mind each puppy is different, and some may mature and become reliable sooner than others. Use your best judgement based on your individual puppy’s personality and needs.

What are the potential risks of leaving a puppy home alone overnight?

Leaving puppies alone overnight comes with certain risks, including:

  • Separation distress – Puppies are social animals and need companionship. Being isolated can cause anxiety, barking, whining, and destructive behaviors.
  • Accidents – Puppies have small bladders and cannot be expected to “hold it” for 8+ hours overnight. Lack of housetraining may lead to indoor accidents.
  • Harm – Untrained puppies may chew on dangerous items or get into unsafe situations leading to injury or illness.
  • Loneliness – Lack of stimulation and contact may negatively impact a puppy’s developing mind and temperament.

What factors determine if a puppy is ready to be left overnight?

Some key considerations when deciding if your puppy is ready to be left alone overnight include:

  • Age and maturity level
  • Duration of time alone
  • Housetraining status
  • Crate training progress
  • Destructive chewing habits
  • Ability to self-soothe
  • Meeting exercise needs
  • Providing interactive toys
  • Puppy-proofing the space
  • Having someone check in
  • Puppy’s tolerance of alone time in short increments

Evaluating all these factors can help determine if a puppy will be comfortable and safe alone overnight.

Tips for leaving a puppy overnight

If you believe your puppy is ready for overnight isolation, here are some tips to make the experience positive:

  • Crate train – Acclimate puppy to sleeping in crate at night while someone is home before leaving alone in crate overnight.
  • Exercise beforehand – Take puppy on long walk or play session to tire them out.
  • Potty right before – Take puppy potty immediately before confining for the night.
  • Leave toys/chews – Provide safe, interactive toys to keep puppy occupied.
  • Comfort items – Leave familiar bedding or worn t-shirt with scent.
  • Puppy-proof area – Remove any dangerous or valuable items.
  • Reduce space – Confining to smaller area, like crate, helps avoid accidents.
  • White noise – Use fan or white noise machine to soothe puppy.
  • Try short increments first – Build up alone time gradually.

Starting with short periods of separation helps ensure the puppy can handle being left overnight.

Overview of puppy development stages

To better understand a puppy’s needs, here is an overview of key developmental stages:

Age Developmental Stage
0-2 weeks Neonatal – Need mom and littermates for survival
3-4 weeks Transition – Begin interacting with environment
5-12 weeks Socialization – Critical period for experiences
13-16 weeks Fear stage – May be wary of unfamiliar things
4-11 months Adolescence – Testing boundaries, less attention
1-2 years Young Adulthood – High energy, social needs
Over 2 years Adulthood – Settling into adult personality

Understanding where a puppy is developmentally helps decide what levels of isolation they can handle.

Providing for puppy’s needs when left overnight

If leaving a puppy overnight, certain provisions should be made to keep them comfortable, safe, and minimize anxiety or destructive behaviors.

Food and water

Puppies have small stomachs and high metabolisms, so they need frequent meals. Leaving dry kibble available or having someone come midway to feed a meal may be necessary for longer stretches. Water should be available at all times. Use no-spill bowls and check supply is adequate before leaving puppy.

Potty needs

Puppies cannot be expected to “hold it” for 8 hours straight, especially at younger ages. Setup an indoor potty spot, like papers, artificial grass pad, or litter box. Or have someone stop by to let puppy outside. Set alarms to take puppy out during the night as needed.

Sleep space

Puppies sleep a lot, so providing a cozy, familiar sleeping area helps them settle when alone. Use a crate or puppy-proofed room with bed, crate pad, blankets, and familiar scents.

Mental stimulation

Provide stimulating and safe chew toys to occupy puppy’s mind and energy. Food puzzles, Kongs, ropes, and teething toys help prevent boredom. Rotate toys to keep it interesting.

Comfort and safety

Leave lights, TV, or music on for comfort. Puppy-proof the space by removing dangers and valuables. Consider camera to check on puppy. Leave recently worn but unwashed clothing to provide a sense of companionship from your scent.

Alternatives to leaving puppy overnight

If it is determined an overnight stretch is too long for a puppy, there are alternatives to provide safety and companionship:

  • Dog sitter – Hire someone to stay with puppy overnight
  • Doggy daycare – Some facilities board dogs overnight
  • Friend/family dog swap – Trade off dog-sitting duties
  • Take puppy along – Bring crate for overnight stays elsewhere
  • Come home on lunch break – Stop home midday to care for puppy
  • Use baby monitor and cameras – To check on puppy as needed

As puppies mature, their ability to handle time alone improves. But young puppies should not be left for long periods, especially overnight, on a regular basis. Making appropriate provisions to meet their needs is key to avoiding problems. With patience and proper training, puppies will eventually become comfortable spending nights alone.


While opinions vary, most experts caution against leaving puppies under 16 weeks alone overnight. Puppies have physical and emotional needs that require frequent care and companionship. With proper crate training, exercise, and preparation, most puppies over 6 months can handle being left for a full night. Consider your individual puppy’s maturity level, housetraining progress, and tolerance of alone time without distress when deciding if they are ready. With age, training, meeting needs, and building alone time gradually, puppies can learn to settle in and get needed rest when left overnight.