How Long Is Too Long To Leave Your German Shepherd Home Alone?
Your German shepherd would tell you that they should never be left home alone. Ever. In their perfect world, you would be home with them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. And, although that would be wonderful, it’s not very realistic.
There will be times when you have to disappoint your shepherd and leave the house to do things like go buy more dog food and toys. There is no avoiding that there will be times when your dog will have to be left alone.
In those times, how long can a German shepherd be left alone? How long dogs can be safely left alone depends on several things. Their age, health, and behavior all play a huge role in how long they can be left on their own.
Many experts will tell you that a dog should never be left alone for more than 4 hours. On the surface, that may sound like good advice, but it’s not right for every dog. Yet, plenty of people regularly leave their dogs alone for longer than 4 hours, right?
How long you decide your dog is safe to be home alone will depend on how comfortable you are leaving them and their age and overall health status. Many dogs manage fine on their own for 4 hours but there are plenty of others that don’t.
Plus, there are other things to consider when leaving your pet. Your dog’s lack of company isn’t the only factor. Things like, do they need more frequent potty breaks, do they get anxious when left alone, are they used to being alone, what is your living situation like, and more, all need to be taken into account.
But there are some rules of thumb that can guide you in your decision on how long they are okay to be alone. Such as:
The Age of the Dog
Puppies can’t be left alone as long as a healthy adult dog since they need more potty breaks. A puppy can’t hold its urine for more than 1 hour per each month of life, plus 1. So, a 3-month-old puppy should not be expected to hold it for more than 3-4 hours, depending on when they last ate and drank. Even the best-trained puppies will have accidents in their crate, through no fault of their own, when they are left alone longer than that.
After puppyhood, a healthy dog should be able to manage on their own without a potty break for 4 hours. It helps to schedule mealtimes around this schedule if they will be indoors. Most dogs do fine alone for this amount of time.
Senior dogs, however, may begin to need more bathroom breaks before 4 hours. Often, they are not as comfortable as they once were while home alone. They may require more consideration than they once did. Senior dogs can also get anxious more easily, especially when they have vision and hearing loss and have more physical ailments.
Health of the Dog
Although healthy dogs can easily manage for 4 hours alone, this may not be true when they are sick or hurt. There are times when your dog shouldn’t be left alone, such as after surgery or when ill. Pain and disability can also give the most stoic dog anxiety when they are alone. Their need for medications, etc. can also create a need to be home with them more often.
When you consider leaving your dog alone, your dog must be trained and safe to leave. Dogs that tear up the house, get into the trash, or chew the furniture are obviously not candidates to be home alone, with free roam of the house. Dogs that can be left alone know the difference between chewing on their toys and tossing your couch.
German shepherds are working dogs and have a high drive. They often don’t do well alone for too long because they easily get bored, which can lead to destructive behaviors. If you plan on leaving any shepherd alone, they will still need plenty of daily exercise, training, and interaction to be happy and easy to live with.
Separation anxiety can also affect German shepherds. Since they are a breed that needs to be busy, considers it their job to watch over their family, and forms strong bonds with people, it’s easy for them to become anxious when left alone for too long.
Anxiety can also cause them to become destructive and even engage in behaviors that can cause them harm. If you have a shepherd with anxiety or other behavior problems, you may need to get professional help before leaving them alone.
Tips for Leaving Your Dog Home Alone
There are things you can do to make life for your dog more comfortable when they are alone, such as:
• Install a dog door and safe area so they can get out for bathroom breaks. A dog door that opens into an escape proof dog run or high fenced yard is ideal.
• Just as you would for your kids, have a plan in place in case you can’t get home or have an emergency. Who do you trust that is available to check in on your dog? Give them a call and make prearrangements, in case you ever need help.
• Consider getting a second dog. This of course is not the answer for everyone but if your pup enjoys the company of other dogs, they may appreciate sharing their day with one.
• Not all German shepherds are candidates for doggy daycare but some are and may enjoy it. Just be sure to find a reputable one that has cameras so you can keep an eye on how your dog is really doing.
• Plenty of durable chew toys. Only you know what type of toys your dog is safe with but whatever they are, have a variety and switch them out and stuff them with treats and food while you’re gone.
• Leave the radio or television on so the house isn’t so quiet.
• Confine to one room or crate dogs that are not safe on their own. Don’t feel guilty about this as long as it’s not more than 4 hours. It’s much better for them to be confined for a short time than getting hurt, sick, or destroying your home.
• Hire a dog sitter to come by every day and let your dog out and play with them for a while.
• Walk or play with them before you leave and when you get home to help them burn off some energy, so they feel more like resting while you’re gone.
• Coordinate your schedule with someone else in the house to make the window of time that the dog is alone shorter.
• Spend your lunch break at home with your dog.
• Get a pet camera so you can check in on your dog throughout the day.
We hope you get to spend plenty of time with your wonderful German shepherd. For those times when you can’t, we hope you find these tips helpful. As always, please feel free to share with your friends.
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