How long to leave a dog, new THS tick box

You’re right, I do very rarely apply for dog sits! I’ve much more experience with cats than dogs but I’d actually love to do more dog sits. When I’m searching for dog sits to apply to I’m always looking for that elusive bit of info about how long they can be left, as well as the reviews from sitters about how well the dogs responded to commands, how nicely they walked in the lead etc. It’s good to hear you think most owners would be amenable to the dog being left for up to four hours. I’ve actually just seen a sit not too far from me with a lovely dog that doesn’t mention how long he can be left so maybe I’ll apply and ask the question!


I don’t ask the question until I have a video conversation as it seems easier to ask that way than in writing


My husband and I’ve telecommuted for years and our dog has never been without us or another caregiver for more than an hour or two. That doesn’t mean he couldn’t be, though. As long as he has food, water and is somewhere safe and at a good temperature, he could be left for longer than he’s experienced with us. If I were using THS for sitters, I’d keep that in mind to maximize my chances of getting a sitter. If I wanted my dog to be left only for a couple of hours or less, I’d be asking myself what’s in it for most sitters, because that’s more like paid sitting. (My husband and I pay a lot for our dog to have full-time care when we travel together.)

The premise of THS is travel for most sitters. Personally, if I wanted to just stay in a home, I have a perfectly comfortable one of my own, like many sitters. And if I wanted just to take care of pets, I could just stay home, take care of mine and/or volunteer. Or I could sit for payment in my area, without the expense of travel.

I take great care of my sit pets, but I sure didn’t join THS just to do that.


I always find it easier to discuss things like that, it’s not a one-size fits all.

Yes, that’s my problem. I have back up for the occasional day out, but our dog is simply used to being with people. He’s fine left for four hours, but I don’t leave him longer and not every day.

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This is a very useful response from someone who understands both from a homeowner and sitter’s point of view. For me though travel and the company of animals are equal and I always prioritise the animals’ welfare over my exploring, should there be illness

Yes, all sitters with the right mindset will make sure their sit pets are well taken care of, especially if they end up sick or injured unexpectedly.

Hosts also should be upfront about their pets’ health. Like if their pets have existing conditions, they should be transparent about that. That’s because THS is built on trust and good faith from both hosts and sitters.

No one should be tricked or trapped into taking care of pets that hosts know already have an illness or injury that requires extra care. Some sitters are fine with that, but all sitters are owed the opportunity to make informed choices. If not, I suggest they report the hosts to THS and potentially cut the sit short after giving notice to THS and the hosts. That’s because hosts should not be allowed or enabled to exploit sitters.

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About pets that are used to X: That’s a chicken or the egg, because presumably all pets or humans are used to X until they’re exposed to new things.

As thoughtful pet owners (or even parents), not exposing your charges to new things is actually potentially limiting or stunting. Of course, we’re not talking about being thoughtless. For pets that aren’t used to X, we as pet owners can gradually acclimate or train them. You don’t wait till you’re leaving on vacation to acclimate or train them — you have plenty of time to expose them beforehand. Like my husband and I have been training our damaged rescue on more and more normal behaviors. Otherwise, he’ll always have unnecessary issues. We don’t want that, of course.

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And 4 hours is absolutely fine with most sitters but your listing says “no more than two hours” and that’s a game changer :+1:t3: @Maggie8K’s advice of weaning him off being with humans all the time is great. 10 minutes extra each time you leave him and soon it will be comfortably 4 hours and your sitter appeal will have increased exponentially. Let’s face it, lots of humans and animals would really like a pee after 4 hours so that’s totally reasonable to return. Best of luck :crossed_fingers:t3:

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Single dog owners who work outside the home are gone for 8 to 9 hours during the day. They walk their dogs in the morning and immediately after work. I find it interesting that the dogs of THS can’t be left for any length of time at all. Perhaps it’s a matter of training. Mine certainly hasn’t suffered and she is walked 6 miles a day.


Agreed @anon42826925 - ours at home can be left for 5/6 hours and as you say loads of working owners have no option other than this. It does seem to be a THS trend that they’re given lots more human company. Hence the want of a sitter not a kennel :+1:t3:

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It may also reflect lack of training. Or unrealistic expectations of the exchange between HO and HS. There have been some HO who work away from home for 8 hours a day and whose dogs are well acclimated to that routine and yet who say their dogs can’t be left for more than 2 hours. If it’s a rural sit that’s not going to work.

As a HO, anything within keeping to my dogs normal routine is acceptable. My emphasis would be on feeding and walking times and getting her exercise. I provide her walking routes and specify distances for the morning due to her toileting needs. I do specify how long she may be left alone at 8 hours. She is happy with routine. I take her with me where I can. But she’s perfectly comfortable hanging out and napping for 8 hours when I can’t take her with me. Sometimes I turn on dog TV or hide high value treats for her to find. But she’s old and mostly sleeps when inside.

I’ve been seeing a lot of frustration amongst HO when they can’t find a sitter. Then I look at their profiles and their expectations are that their dog not be left for more than 30 minutes to two hours. Then in conversation with the HO I learn that their routine is to be left for 8 hours a day. With long walks AM and right after work.

Kennels have plenty of human interaction but I have not used them since my dog was first rescued. My dog would be so anxious and not a good kind of exhausted when I picked her up. She loves other dogs but does not thrive in the chaotic environment of a kennel. So she’s either at home or with one in home sitter.

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Nope. HOs with pets that need paid services should look elsewhere.

Adding paid services to THS would completely go against the ethos of the site.


An HO we are sitting for in April accepted a sitter on THS who then sent a list of her “extras” for which she wanted payment. These included “picking up :poop:, extra daily walk, buying dog food and so on. Each one has a price on her price list :flushed::flushed: They declined and reported her.

It would be funny to imagine the hosts in turn giving that nutty sitter a price list for each time she used the toilet, used the fridge, slept in their bed, etc.

:100:- what was amazing was that she was ex UK military, had lived abroad, had lots of experience and was still chancing her arm. When they refused she suggested “let’s negotiate on prices” :rofl::rofl::flushed:

I’ve fostered rescue dogs for several years. The process is very beneficial for the adopter as the foster process means the behavior of the dog can be fully assessed which is not really possible in a kenneled environment and if possible corrected. Without this a rescue dog would only be allowed to be adopted into a home with no other pets or children. Once you know the dog is good with children, cats, other dogs etc it opens up more opportunities.
One of the biggies is how long a dog can be left alone. This is not just for toilet breaks but also separation anxiety.
While there may be a hard limit for toilet breaks that you can’t really train a dog beyond my view is separation anxiety is something that really needs to be focused on more by owners even when they aren’t a rescue dog. Yes you may be home all day but at some point you won’t be (looking at all the people who got dogs during lockdown) and it’s much better for a dog if they can be left alone for 6+ hours even if that almost never happens. Plus you get to have some freedom as well. Please train your dogs to be able to be left alone rather than training yourself never to leave the dog for their sake and yours.

Great advice @cawosey - I think almost all the dogs we’ve cared for (50+) through THS bar three or four have all been rescues, ex street dogs, re-homers etc. There’s definitely a pattern to HOs wanting sitters for dogs that have already had a tough start in life or been through trauma as you say.

It’s great that THS now have some options on there, tbh as a sitter if the listing didn’t say how long, I always ask, if sitters are commenting this is not long enough for them, I would be worried about how often they are going to be home, that’s me personally. If we are sitting away from home (travelling, touristy things etc) I always check first how long is okay? is there a neighbour who could come and let the Dog(s) out a couple of times during the day if we were to go out for 6+ hours, we rarely are out for that long, it’s too much for us and we always have the day at home either side of it, however I understand many sitters want to head out each day or every other day, I suppose it depends on your routines and what you are comfortable with. We try to always keep to the Dog’s routine, it makes for an easier sit for the Dog(s) and us, we don’t want anxious Doggies.
Sounds like your Dog would prefer a sitter(s) who are Work from Home and when they do go out, not for a big day out.
Enjoy your time away.

@Manda I think HOs sometimes use the time the dog can be left alone as a measure of how much love and attention the dog will get when they are away. It’s not necessarily a good measure. I like to take long AM walks with my doggy friends. Then go out and see something interesting and come back and take them for a more more leisurely walk before or after dinner. I’m not one to go out much at night so we’ll usually have the entire evening at home snuggling in the living space. So although I might like to be gone for 6+ hours I am usually at home for the other 18. Dogs get plenty of affection and time with me.