=

Can My German Shepherd Be Left Alone?

Categorized as Training and Behavior
Featured image for an article about can german shepherds be left alone?

As a German Shepherd owner, you probably wonder if your loyal companion can handle some time by themselves while you’re at work or running errands. German Shepherds are known for closely bonding with their human pack, so leaving them for an extended period can be concerning. The good news is that with the proper training and preparation, your Shepherd can absolutely spend some quality alone time without anxiety or trouble.

This guide will provide everything you need to know!

Here’s a quick answer:

Yes, an adult German Shepherd can be left alone for up to 8 hours if properly trained and exercised. Establish a routine involving meals, walks, playtime and training. Before leaving, tire them out with vigorous exercise. Provide interactive puzzle toys and access to a comfortable, safe space like a crate or dog-proofed room. With proper preparation and home setup focused on their needs, most adult German Shepherds can relax on their own for reasonable periods until your return.

Factors That Determine Alone Time

There are a few key factors that determine how long your German Shepherd can comfortably and safely be left alone:

  • Age – Puppies and seniors need more frequent check-ins
  • Training – Well-trained adult Shepherds do best alone
  • Exercise – A tired dog is a good dog!

See the table below for age-specific alone time recommendations:

Age RangeMax Time Alone
Puppies2 hours
Adolescents4-6 hours
Adults4-8 hours
Seniors4-6 hours

Puppies

As you might expect, your rambunctious German Shepherd puppy should not be left to their own devices for very long. Puppies need frequent potty breaks, attention, training and playtime. As a general rule, your pup should not be alone for more than 1-2 hours maximum until they mature more. Consider hiring a dog walker or sitter!

Adolescents

The adolescent phase hits between 1-2 years old. At this age, your German Shepherd still requires plenty of stimulation and supervision. Their energy and mischievousness are at a peak! They can handle alone periods of 4-6 hours at this stage. Breaking up the day with a visit, walk or interactive toys keeps them happiest.

Adult Dogs

Fully mature adult GSDs (around 2 years old) are at prime age for handling alone time. Assuming your adult Shepherd is properly trained and exercised, they should have no issue being alone for up to 8 hours comfortably. Just be sure to give them potty breaks and playtime when you return!

Senior Dogs

Your senior German Shepherd (over 7 years old) will likely start slowing down and sleeping more. However, seniors still need regular check-ins and comfort. Aim to leave your elderly Shepherd alone for no more than 4-6 hours at a time, with potty breaks when you return. Consider hiring a dog walker or sitter to give them midday attention.

Preparing To Leave Your German Shepherd Alone

Taking proper steps to prepare your Shepherd for alone time is crucial. Here is how to set them up for success before you head out:

  • Establish a Routine: Regular schedules are key for this breed. Set designated times for meals, walks, training and play.
  • Provide Interactive Toys: Freeze a Kong with treats or purchase puzzle toys to pique their brains.
  • Create a Safe Space: Use a comfortable crate or dog-proofed room as their secure zone.
  • Exercise First: Take them on a long vigorous walk, run or hike beforehand to tire them out.
  • Practice Separation: Help ease any anxieties by randomly conducting “practice runs” of you leaving then returning.
  • Consider Doggy Daycare: Doggy daycare provides stimulation, socialization and supervision while you work.

If you prepare properly and take age and training into account, you can feel comfortable leaving your German Shepherd alone for reasonable periods.

Maximizing Alone Time Comfort & Safety

While a well-adjusted GSD can stay by themselves for a while, extra considerations will help them feel even more at ease:

Leave Background Noise On

Dogs can get uneasy in a silent, still home. Leave a radio or TV on a low volume to mimic company with normal household sounds.

Give Access to a Yard (If Possible)

Having a safely enclosed yard to sniff around and take potty breaks in is very helpful to tire them out while you’re gone.

Hire a Dog Walker

A midday dog walk gives them exercise, bathroom opportunities and social interaction to break up the day.

Arrange a Friend to Check-In

Ask a neighbor or friend to periodically check on food, water, potty breaks and give tasty treats.

Invest in Smart Home Tech

Consider smart home cameras, automatic treat dispensers and smart feeders you can monitor remotely for added peace of mind.

By optimizing your home setup for your German Shepherd’s alone time, you can provide them maximum comfort and safety.

How Long Should You Ultimately Leave a German Shepherd Alone?

At the end of the day, most properly trained adult German Shepherds can be left alone for up to 8 hours safely and comfortably, given the right home setup and preparations beforehand involving exercise, food/water access, potty opportunities etc. However, this should not become their normal full-time lifestyle.

German Shepherds thrive on close companionship, stimulation and activity. Any longer periods of isolation or solitude can lead to boredom, anxiety and destructive behaviors over time. For their health and happiness, aim to limit alone periods to just those necessary work or errand timeframes.

Possible Issues When Left Alone Too Long

When German Shepherds are left entirely alone for long periods of time on a regular basis, some problematic behaviors can develop:

  • Separation Anxiety
  • Excessive Barking
  • Chewing/Destruction
  • Aggression
  • Escaping
  • Depression

Signs like these indicate that your Shepherd needs more socialization and activity in your absence. Consider alternatives like doggy daycare, dog walkers, or a dog-friendly workplace.

While they can spend up to 8 hour alone spurts, German Shepherds should not be left solitary the majority of the time. Be sure to spend quality pack time together playing, training and bonding daily.

Frequently Asked Questions

Still have some lingering questions about leaving your German Shepherd alone? Here are answers to some common FAQs:

Is it okay to feel guilty about leaving my German Shepherd alone?

It’s completely normal to feel a little guilty leaving your companions at first. But understand that a properly exercised, trained and prepared German Shepherd is very capable of relaxing alone at home in your absence. Avoid dramatizing your departures and greetings, and try to exude calm confidence about the solo time when leaving.

Should I crate my German Shepherd when they are left alone?

This breed feels protected in a “den”-like crate. It’s a great place for them to unwind alone if properly crate trained during your absences. Be sure to give them potty breaks immediately before crating them however. Generally aim to crate in 4-6 hour intervals at most for an adult Shepherd.

How can I make sure my German Shepherd still gets exercise if I work long hours?

If your work schedule necessitates longer alone stints, be sure to stress the importance of exercise before and after work. Have a dog walker take them on a brisk 30-60 minute daily walk as well. You can also consider sending them to doggy daycare a couple days a week for play time.

What if my German Shepherd seems sad, anxious or destructive when I leave?

This likely signals separation anxiety or excess energy needing an output. Consult an experienced dog trainer or behaviorist for help. In the meantime, make sure they get at least an hour walk morning and night. Provide interactive puzzle toys for mental stimulation as well. Consider anti-anxiety medications or pheromone diffusers too if recommended by your vet.

The Key Takeaway

At the end of the day, most properly trained and cared-for German Shepherds can manage being left alone for UP to 8 hours when necessary. However, they should not spend most of their time in total solitude.

These loyal working dogs thrive when engaged in regular training, vigorous activity and loving companionship with their favorite humans! Apply the preparation tips covered here before your outings, optimize your home setup, and ensure your Shepherd still gets plenty of quality pack time each day.

With attentiveness to their age, training, exercise needs and natural instincts, you can comfortably leave your German Shepherd alone for reasonable durations guilt-free. They might miss you at first, but a well-structured environment and routine will have them relaxing comfortably until your happy return!

By Andrew Garf

Andrew Garf has loved dogs, especially German Shepherds, since he was 10 years old. Though he also loves burgers, training dogs is his real passion. That's why he created the website TrainYourGSD.com - to help dog owners learn how to properly train, care for, and bond with their German Shepherd dogs.