can german shepherds be left alone

Can German Shepherds Be Left Alone? What You Need To Know

Can German Shepherds be left alone? Yes, German Shepherds can be left alone for a certain period of time as long as their needs are well satisfied. Else they may develop undesirable behavior.

So, if you have a busy lifestyle and have no choice but to leave your German Shepherd for extended periods of time, you’ll have to find a way to address their needs and keep them entertained while you’re away.

In this article, we’ll look into just that as well as how long you can leave a German Shepherd alone, and what issues may arise when leaving your GSD alone for extended periods.

How Long Can A German Shepherd Be Left Alone?

Assuming all needs are met, you can leave your German Shepherd adult alone for about 8 to 12 hours. Puppies on the other hand require more supervision and can only be left alone for 2 hours.

Possible Issues When Leaving Your German Shepherd Alone

Leaving your German Shepherd alone may lead to boredom or separation anxiety, both of which may cause behavioral issues.

Behavioral Problems Caused By Boredom

German Shepherds require a lot of both physical and mental stimulation. The lack of these may lead to boredom, and eventually, behavioral problems in your GSD.

When bored, your German Shepherd may get stressed and start exhibiting destructive behavior. If you find your dog chewing on everything, excessive digging, or escaping out of the crate, it’s possible that your dog’s not naughty but just probably bored out of its mind.

Such is why you have to make sure you provide your German Shepherd with ample exercise and play. Now, it’s understandable that doing so can be difficult, especially with a busy lifestyle. But, fortunately, there are ways to keep your dog active while you’re away, all of which we’ll discuss in a further section.

Separation Anxiety

Due to their social and affectionate nature, German Shepherds may also experience separation anxiety, a condition in which your dog may suffer anxiety and sadness due to your absence.

Like boredom, this condition may cause behavioral problems, like excessive barking, howling, and even destructive behavior like excessive chewing.

Why Do German Shepherds End Up With Separation Anxiety?

It’s not so clear cut as to why a German Shepherd, or any dog for that matter, develops separation anxiety. But according to ASPCA, the following are possible triggers:

  • Loss. It is well believed that the loss of an important person or group of people in the dog’s life can lead to separation anxiety.
  • Change of owners. Being abandoned, or given to another guardian may cause the development of the disorder.
  • Change in schedule. Abrupt changes in schedule that affect how long the dog’s left alone may also trigger the development of the disorder.
  • Change in residence. Even moving to a different house may trigger separation anxiety.

It may be possible that none of these would apply to your situation and you’d have to investigate for other possible reasons. For example, is your German Shepherd clingy or overly attached? You may have at some point, most probably as a puppy, spoiled your GSD, and maybe they just haven’t come to terms with the relative lack of treatment.

Dealing With Separation Anxiety

So, what can you do if your German Shepherd does have separation anxiety? Well, to put it simply, you’d have to teach your dog to enjoy or tolerate being alone. The following are some methods you can try to so:

Crate training. If properly trained, crates can become a calming space for your German Shepherd. In it, they’ll feel protected, secure, and, most importantly, relaxed. When it comes to separation anxiety, crate training will help provide your dog with a safe space, while also serving as a way to prevent your dog from causing any damage.

Counter-conditioning. Another way to treat separation anxiety is by associating separation with positive experiences. For example, you may try giving your German Shepherd a treat before you depart.

Keep calm and stay cool. As much as possible, stay calm and keep things low-key, especially when you leave or arrive. For example, if you go over the top when it comes to greeting your dog, it may suggest that your arrival is a major event that your dog has to constantly look forward to. Also, if you do come home to any damage, do stay cool, and don’t punish your dog. For one, the deed was done some time ago, and so, they probably won’t even associate the damage to the punishment. Secondly, punishment may even worsen or add to the dog’s anxiety.

Exercise. If you provide enough exercise, your German Shepherd will be too tired to be anxious. So, if you can allot the time, take your dog for a brisk walk or some playtime.

Medication. You can never go wrong with contacting your veterinarian. If you need help, call your vet and get medication for your German Shepherd.

Doggy Daycare. Another way to get help is to take your dog to the daycare. That way, your  German Shepherd won’t be alone.

How To Keep A German Shepherd Busy While You’re Away

As mentioned, we’ll discuss a variety of methods to keep your German Shepherd active and entertained while you’re away. These methods will help curb boredom and keep your dog happy while you’re at work or school.

Dog Toys

Dog toys are a great way to keep your German Shepherd entertained and mentally stimulated even when you’re away. Some toys may even help provide your German Shepherd the exercise it needs.

Hide Treats Around The House

If toys aren’t available, you could keep your German Shepherd active by leaving and hiding treats around the house. This will encourage your dog to move around the house and essentially let them play hide and seek by itself.

Give Your Dog Something To Observe

Another way to keep your German Shepherd busy is by giving them something to watch and observe. One way to this is by simply opening the curtains and giving your GSD a view of the outside. This will effectively keep your dog busy, as it observes people, cars, birds, basically everything visible through the window.

If your dog likes watching the tv, you may consider leaving the tv on when you’re away. This provides the same benefit as opening the curtains, and it will keep your dog busy and entertained.

Hire A Dog Walker

If it’s not out of budget, you could also opt to hire a dog walker. Dog walkers are well trained to keep dogs busy and will help your German Shepherd fulfill its physical and exercise needs and will help prevent the development of behavioral problems.

Take Your Dog To The Daycare

Again, if the budget permits, you could also take your dog to the daycare. There, your dog will get to play around with other dogs, get groomed, and even just relax.

Not only is this a great way to stimulate and prevent your German Shepherd from getting bored, it’s also a great way to socialize your dog with other dogs and people.

Get Your Dog A Friend

Image by AnjaGh from Pixabay

If it’s not too much, how about getting your German Shepherd a friend? 

Now, a friend could mean different things. Perhaps you have a close friend or a family member that you can take care of your dog while you’re away.

Or maybe, it could mean another dog to accompany your German Shepherd. If it won’t hurt the budget, or if you’re up to the idea, another dog will make sure that your German Shepherd won’t ever be alone. And this could be very good for your GSD, as having a friend to play with regularly will most probably make it so that either dog will ever be bored again.

Before getting your dog a friend, however, do make sure that your German Shepherd is appropriately socialized and will get along well with other people or friends. Else, rather than helping, it would just lead to problems.

Other Important Considerations

Food And Water

It goes without saying, but do leave your dog with some food and water just so that it can eat when hungry and stay hydrated throughout the day. A simple tip, try using a food-dispensing toy so that your dog gets fed while being engaged and active at the same time.

Potty Issues

Leaving your German Shepherd alone would mean that it’d have to manage its bladder and business alone. So, it can be worrisome, especially when your dog’s not necessarily potty trained.

In such a case, you may want to let your dog roam free outdoors, assuming, of course, that your house is fenced and your German Shepherd won’t be able to escape. But the best solution would most definitely be potty and litter training your dog.

Puppies

As mentioned, while you can generally leave adult dogs alone, you pretty much can’t do so with puppies. For one, they aren’t mature enough to stay in control, and it’s highly probable that they’re untrained. Meaning, they’re likely to chew on stuff, and since they can’t control their bladders just yet, they may just take a poo or pee anywhere they can. 

Most importantly, puppies are also more prone to developing separation anxiety. So, if your German Shepherd’s a puppy, try as much as possible not to leave it alone and if you’re not available, maybe have someone else keep your puppy company.

Can German Shepherds Be Left Alone?

To summarize, yes, you can leave your adult German Shepherd alone. Just be sure to address their physical and mental needs by providing them with interactive toys or the other methods provided. Do also consider having your dog obedience and potty trained, as that will make things very much easier.

That said, the same would not apply to puppies, as they require more supervision. So, if you have a puppy, have someone keep it company as much as possible.

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