As you know, German shepherds are smart. They’re also very active and like to keep busy. They have a high energy level and curious personality that can easily get them into mischief when left alone for too long.
Since German shepherds are herding dogs, they also like the company of their pack and love to be with their human family. When you can’t be with your German shepherd, there are some things you can do to help keep them entertained and safe when you’re not at home.
German Shepherd Proof your Home
Just like puppy or baby proofing your house, if you’re going to leave your dog home alone, you’ll want to prepare your house. How much proofing you need to do will depend on your dog but some ideas include:
Putting away the food on the counter, putting the trash in the garage or behind a latched or closed door, put up chewable valuables, remove toys and gadgets (especially those with batteries), hide electrical wires so they can’t be chewed, put medication or sugar free candy and gum away where the dog can’t get it, move plants out of mouths reach, hide the laundry, pick up clothing, shoes, etc, remove cleaning supplies, candles, chemicals, essential oils, etc. and put unsafe dog toys away until you’re home.
Install a Dog Door
If your dog is home alone for long hours, you may want to consider installing a dog door. If you do go the dog door route, be sure your fences are locked and that your dog can’t get over the fence. If you live in an area where there are coyotes, you may also want to consider installing coyote rollers on your fence.
Since a German shepherd sized dog door is large, security experts suggest installing the door in a wall rather than the door itself so there is no way for thieves to reach door handles or locks. There are also high-tech doors that only unlock when activated by microchips that are located in a dog’s collar.
One of the best ideas I’ve seen shared is a doggy door that exited through the wall and into a dog run that was fully fenced, including the top of the run, so no animals could get into or out of the dog run. It was also a deterrent against unwanted people.
Always leave plenty of spill proof water outdoors for your dog in case they can’t get back inside their dog door. Also, be sure to invest in a steel locking security door cover to keep bad people from trying to access your door while you’re at home. If you have security cameras, consider pointing on at your dog door.
Get a Dog Cam
There are many dog cams on the market that allow you to check in on your dog from your cell phone. Some cameras will even allow you to record, take pictures, communicate with, and dispense treats to your dog.
Dog cams are a great way to give yourself some peace of mind while you’re not at home. Can you imagine watching your dog try to sneak into the trash as you deliver a stern no? Or, how about your dog is doing exactly what you want them to do so they get praise and then a treat magically appears…that is the power of the dog cam.
Hire a Dog Sitter or Dog Walker
If you’re gone for long hours, you might want to consider hiring someone to come over and spend some time with your dog. Even if you don’t want anyone walking your German shepherd but having someone come by to throw the ball, be sure you pup has water, brush your shedder, and just spend some time is a great way to break up the day and give your dog some extra TLC.
A dog sitter is great for dogs that have anxiety, are older, that need more potty breaks, or for younger, more active dogs, and for puppies. If your dog is in a kennel during the day, hiring someone to give them a break also provides them with some exercise and is good for their health to be able to move around, get some fresh air, and go on a potty break.
If you have a German shepherd that gets along well with other dogs but suffers from separation anxiety or just does not do well alone, you may consider getting the dog a playmate or enrolling it in daycare. Lots of dogs look forward to going to day care and being there provides lots of mental and physical stimulation and exercise. Another upside, once you find a reliable place, you’ll never have to worry about your dog being left alone again. No more guilt!
Confine your Dog
If you’re dog can’t be trusted with free reign of the house, for their own protection you may want to provide them with an extra large crate, x pen, or create a confined area in the house that’s comfortable for them.
Crate training dogs has many benefits although not all dogs need to be crated while their humans are away. If you do crate your dog, consider how they will get fresh water, remove their collar to prevent it from getting caught on the bars of the crate, and provide durable chew toys that they can’t choke on.
Play with your Dog Before you Leave
Dogs and people do well with routines and if you can schedule time to exercise or play with your dog before you leave for the day, it will help burn off some excess energy and create a calmer, less anxious dog.
If your German shepherd is tired, it will be less bored. Bored dogs tend to get anxious and get into more trouble. Pent up energy can also lead to frustration and destructive behaviors.
Having an exercise routine will also give your smart pup something to look forward to each morning. Of course, you’ll need to repeat the play and exercise time when you get home, unless your German shepherd is in its golden years.
Some exercise and playtime ideas include going for a walk or run, playing fetch, swimming, hide and seek, and playing tug-o-war.
German shepherds love their toys and will often entertain themselves with them. However, they also have super strong jaws and teeth that can rip apart most of what you find on pet store shelves.
What you choose to leave your dog alone with will depend on you and your dog but some durable dog toys and puzzles include large rubber balls, tough Kongs, Westpaw Zogoflex (toughest rated), Goughnuts rings and sticks, and Planet Dog Tuff balls and toys. Some fun monthly toy subscriptions that include tough toys include BarkBox and Bullymake.
For dogs that don’t like being alone, you can consider getting a second pet (only if it’s a good idea-perhaps even borrow a friend to try it out for a day), leaving the TV or radio on, looking into calming treats and toys, alternating your schedule to check on your pet, or hiring a neighbor to check on your dog. You’ll also need to provide your dog with fresh water for so many health reasons, including their kidney health, which means, you also need to plan for bathroom breaks.
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