German Shepherds are amazing pets that are full of energy and enthusiasm. But when left to their own devices without anything to do during the day, things can get out of hand. A bored German Shepherd can wreak havoc on your home. They can leave you with a mess after a long day away at work. Many owners are looking for answers when it comes to leaving their German Shepherd at the house for extended periods of time. So can German Shepherds be left alone?
Yes, German Shepherds can be left alone but 4 hours should be the maximum. Any longer than that and your German Shepherd can become bored and take part in destructive behaviors. They can also become lonely and possibly experience separation anxiety and become stressed. 8 hours is too long for your dog to go without taking a potty break or getting exercise.
German Shepherds need an outlet to expend all of their energy. They are highly active animals that require proper socialization and regular exercise and play to stay sharp. This article will discuss some important aspects for leaving your dog alone and what you can do to keep them busy while you are away.
How long can German Shepherds be left alone?
The amount of time that you leave your German Shepherd alone depends on the age of your dog. As a rule of thumb puppies should only be left alone one hour for every one month of age. With every month they grow older, after the 3 month mark, they can hold in their pee for one more hour.
8-10 Week Old Puppy:
This is around the time that most newborn puppies are adopted. A puppy this young shouldn’t be left alone for more than 1 hour. Puppies pee a lot and at this age you can expect a young pup to pee in 1 hour if left alone and possibly sooner.
This is normally the age that people start to crate train. It is also and a prime time to start teaching them to go outside. If you must leave them alone for an hour, make sure they are in a crate or enclosed area. This will ensure their safety.
There will most likely be plenty of accidents at this stage in their life so be prepared for lots of messes. Patience is key when your young puppy is exploring the new world around him.
10-12 Week Old Puppy:
At this point, a puppy that is close to 2 months old can be left alone for up to 2 hours. Ideally they should be able to hold their bladder for 2 hours without going potty but there are no guarantees.
A puppy this old will be finding their roots and getting into all sorts of trouble. It is a good idea to block off an area with hard floors and no carpet in case of any accidents.
Avoid using pee pads and instead start to crate train and potty train your new German Shepherd puppy. Pee pads can give the wrong message to your puppy, making them think that it is OK to go potty inside.
3-6 Month Old Puppy:
Now that a German Shepherd puppy is a little more grown up, it will be easier to leave them alone for longer periods of time. Remember one hour for each month of age is the traditional gauge.
However, I would still recommend not leaving them alone for more than 4 hours at a time. They should at least be able to hold it a couple of hours at this point but there may still be some mishaps on occasion.
At this point potty training should be coming along and your puppy should have some basic commands down. Always use positive reinforcement when training and avoid punishing them for any indoor bathroom breaks.
6-12 Month Old Puppy:
Now that a German Shepherd has reached the adolescent stage, they should have a pretty tight grip on their bladder functions. You can now leave them alone for a period of 4 hours and up to 6 hours if you absolutely have to.
At this stage in the game, your dog’s youthful spirit will be shining through. And by youthful spirit, I mean biting and chewing everything they can get their paws on.
Depending on the dog, you may need to test the waters before leaving them home alone too long. Some dogs are more prone to separation anxiety and may partake in destructive behaviors when left to their own devices.
Make sure that you leave them some chew toys to enjoy and anything else that might provide some comfort.
12 Month Old and up Dog:
You can now technically call your German Shepherd an adult. Although they will still have a lot more maturing to do in the next few years.
Your dog should be potty trained at this point and able to hold their bladder for longer periods of up to 6-8 hours depending on the dog.
They can now be left alone with less concern about their bladder.
Can German Shepherds be left alone in a Crate While I’m away?
Crate training is a great way to teach your German Shepherd to feel safe in an enclosed space and gives them a cozy secure area to go to sleep. It will also make them more comfortable in certain situations, like that yearly ride to the veterinarian.
However, they should never be left in a crate for more than a few hours. And they definitely shouldn’t be left in their crate for a full 8 hour work day. If you have to leave your German Shepherd at home while you are at work, hire a dog sitter or walker to come over half way through the day to let your dog out for some exercise and a potty break.
How To Keep Your German Shepherd Busy When Home Alone?
If you plan on leaving your German Shepherd home alone for work or other circumstances, you are going to need some ideas for keeping them busy. Here are some of the things you can do to keep your dog busy.
Hire a dog sitter or walker:
This is the best option if you plan on leaving your German Shepherd home alone for a period longer than 4-6 hours. If you have to work and your dog is going to be alone all day, you can hire an experience dog sitter or walker to come and visit your dog.
There are plenty of dog care apps but my daughter loves Rover.com. It is one of the most well known and respected companies that offers mobile doggy day care right on your phone. They offer local dog sitters and walkers who are proven to be trustworthy based on reviews.
They will treat your dog like one of their own and can even send you updates throughout the day to keep you posted on your German Shepherd’s well being.
Give them plenty of toys:
This is the obvious route to go if you plan on leaving your pup alone for a long period. They are definitely going to need something to keep their mind busy and active. A bored German Shepherd can get into a lot of unnecessary trouble if not given an outlet for all of that energy.
Leave them some healthy and safe chew toys to play with. A great idea is to fill up one of their toys with peanut butter and let them try to lick it all out. This can keep them busy for a decent amount of time. If you don’t have one, the KONG Classic is perfect for filling up with their favorite treats.
You can also use more complex dog brain puzzle games that should keep them on their toes. Having their favorite toy with them will also give them some much needed comfort while you are away. Make sure to stay away from any smaller toys that they could swallow or bones that can splinter.
Adopt or rescue another dog:
It may seem like a lot to even consider owning another dog but a playmate for your German Shepherd can work wonders. Dogs love to socialize and another dog will keep both of them occupied and active during the day.
Your German Shepherd will be much happier having a playmate to spend time with versus being all alone for the day.
Check out your local adoption centers or shelters for any new dogs that need a home. A lot of dog owners say that having two dogs makes life so much easier because they tend to bond and take care of each other to a certain degree.
Use a doggy daycare:
If you can’t leave them at home alone because of extended hours, you can use a doggy daycare to watch them for you. Just search for a local doggy daycare in your area.
Make sure to do plenty of research before taking your dog to one of these places. You want to be absolutely sure that they can be trusted.
You need to make sure that your dog will be OK around lots of other dogs. This can be accomplished with the proper socialization training when they are young. Some German Shepherds may also suffer from separation anxiety and miss their owners too much.
Give them something to look at:
You can do a couple of things to give them something to look at while you are away. First, you can open the shutters and blinds to the front or backyard so they can see what is going on with the neighbors or animals outside. Our backyard is full of birds, bunnies and squirrels which is right up your German Shepherd’s alley.
Second, you can turn on the TV while they are home alone to keep their minds active and focused. This is assuming that your dog likes to watch TV. Certain dogs may not care at all about watching television.
Put on something like Animal Planet and turn the volume up enough that they can hear the different animal sounds.
Tips for leaving your German Shepherd home alone:
There are several things that you can do to make things a little easier on both you and your dog.
- Wear them out before you leave: Exercise is a great way to expend some of their energy before leaving for the day. Take them for a walk in the morning or give them some playtime before you go. This will make them much less likely to get bored and destructive.
- Ask a neighbor to play with them: This is a great option, if you have a neighbor close by that can come over and spend maybe thirty minutes to an hour playing with your dog. It’s even better if they have a dog that can come over and play with your German Shepherd.
- Use a dog calming aid: If your dog is anxious while you are away, they may benefit from using a dog calming aid. It can be very helpful for any dog suffering from high stress or separation anxiety. They now make healthy aids that use organic natural ingredients without the drugs or side effects.
- Install a doggy door: Our neighbors use a doggy door that allows their two dogs to go in and out for bathroom breaks when they are away. Obviously you must have a proper backyard fence to keep them contained without any chance of them escaping. Some dogs are known to be escape artists!
I hope that this article answered all of your questions regarding this topic. Leaving your dog home alone is fine if it isn’t for long periods of time, preferably under 4 hours. Just make sure to follow the guidelines above to keep them totally safe.
Crate train them starting at 8-10 weeks for maximum benefits. This will make leaving them home alone easier in the future. Keep them busy! An active Shepherd is a happy Shepherd!
Please leave a comment below and let us know what you think!
Do you have any experience with leaving your German Shepherd alone? What tips do you have to make the time spent alone easier? We would love to hear about them!