Can Golden Retrievers Be Left Alone? Only If You Do This


I wish I could spend all of my day every day with my dogs and my family. I wish I could spend the day playing with them, taking them for walks, runs, and bike rides around the house.

But I have to say goodbye to them everyday and go to work. This is probably the case for you as well. But we know that Goldens are very attached to their owners, and some dogs do not do okay when left alone for a long time.

So, what about Goldens? Can golden retrievers be left alone? Yes, Golden Retrievers can be left alone. Golden Retrievers can be left alone for 3 to 6 hours every day, with the maximum being 8 hours. golden retrieverpies under 18 months of age can be left alone for a maximum of 2 hours every day. They should have access to food, freshwater, and a bathroom when left alone.

However, there are things you need to do to ensure that your dog has fun while staying alone and doesn’t get bored out of his mind.

Staying alone for long periods of time can indeed cause some mental harm to some dogs, and in this article, I’m going to tell you exactly what you need to do to make sure this does not happen to your dog. So, keep reading, and let’s dive deep into it.

How long Can Golden Retrievers Be Left Alone?

Sad golden retriever on couch to illustrate how long can golden retrievers be left alone

As explained earlier in the article, you can leave your dog for a few hours alone without an issue really – given that your dog is well-trained and well-socialized.

However, age is a very important factor to consider here. 

Here is a break down of how long you can leave your golden retriever according to their age: 

  • 8 – to- 10 weeks: Dogs between 8 to 10 weeks should not be left alone for more than one hour every day. Their tiny bladders simply can’t hold it. 
  • 2- to-3 months: You can leave your puppies for two hours every day but you shouldn’t go for more than 4 hours at this young age. 
  • Four months and older: Now you can leave them for more than 4 hours as their bladders can hold it for longer and they have gotten accustomed to you leaving them alone for hours at a time. I wouldn’t leave them alone for more than 6 hours at this age still, though.
  • 18 Months and more: Your golden puppies are now adults and you can leave them alone for 6-to-8 hours. It’s not recommended to leave them alone for more than 8 hours a day as this can trigger behavioral problems such as separation anxiety (which we’ll discuss later). 

Notice how I added a bit of a range for every age? That’s because every dog truly is an individual case, and how long you can leave your golden retriever alone depends very much on how well they were trained and socialized at a young age. 

It also depends on when they mature. For example, males and females mature at different paces, which is something you can learn more about it in my 19 differences between male and female golden retrievers post.

Every dog also calms down at a different point in their life, and it’s useful to know when your specific dog will calm down. Find out when will your golden retriever calm down here and how to help them be more chill.

Getting your dog accustomed to being left alone is something that can take some time, but it’s an essential training process if you’re going to be leaving them home on their own for most of the day. 

How long is too long?

More than 8 hours is definitely considered to be too long. Unfortunately, many of us fall into this trick without really thinking about it. Consider this; your dog shouldn’t be left alone for more than 8 hours a day, but you have an 8-hour shift every day at work, so that’s fine, right? 

No, that’s not fine. 

There is still the time we spend commuting every single day, and the days where we’ll work those never-ending 12 hours shifts. 

This means that while you work 8 hours shifts, you are actually spending 9 or 10 hours away from home every day, which is definitely too long for your golden retriever to be left alone. 

So, what can you do to help your golden retriever stay at home without it becoming a problem and taking a toll on their physical and mental health?

3 Steps to Train Your Dog to be left alone

You can follow these simple steps below to train your dog to be left alone and gradually increase the time they can be left alone without worrying about it. 

Here are the steps: 

Step 1: Encourage them to go to bed 

Start by encouraging your pooch to go to bed and stay there for a short time while you’re in the same room. When your dog remains in their bed quietly for a while, reward them. 

Then, ask them to stay while you move away and leave the room. If they stay, return, and reward them. 

Step 2: Increase distance and time 

With every time, start by increasing the distance you leave them and the time as well. When your dog stays calm and quiet, come back and reward them with treats and praise. If your dog starts moving to come to you or starts whining or growling, come back and go a step back in the training by shortening the time and distance. 

Step 3: Start shutting the door behind you 

Start by shutting the door while you leave and increase the time you leave them alone. This should teach them that you will be leaving for longer periods of time. This is when you start leaving for an hour at a time and gradually increase this time period. 

I have also found that there are some neat tricks you can do that makes leaving your golden retriever alone much easier. The following are the 15 tips I’ve learned over the years that made my life easier, and I think they can do the same for you.

15 Tips to Leaving Your Golden Retriever Alone at Home

Here are the 15 tips you can use to help your golden retriever get used to being left alone at home:

Start Training Them Early

Puppies have a short attention span while they’re young, but you can start training them once they’re 7 or 8 weeks of age. That’s the age when they will start learning basic obedience commands such as “sit” and “stay”, and it’s also a good time to start training them to be left alone. 

Socialization should also start this early. The earlier you start socializing them and help them explore the world, other people, and other animals, the better behaved they will be when they grow up and the stabler their personalities are going to become. 

German Shepherds are known to have pretty stable personalities, and early training and socialization play a big role in stabilizing their personalities and temperament earlier in life.

Gradually increase the time you leave them alone

 Once your dog starts getting used to you leaving them alone at the house for a while, let’s say 30 minutes, you can start leaving them for longer and see how it goes.

Increase it by 10 minutes every time you leave them alone. You will be able to take it from 30 minutes to an hour within a week or two, and then by the time they’re 2 or 3 months old, you can go for up to 4 hours. 

Then, once they can be left alone for 4 hours or more and they are four months old or older, you can leave them for 4 to 6 hours alone. You can leave them for the full workday (8 hours) once they’re mature enough – 18 months of age or older.

Tire Them Out before going outside

If you walk your dog in the evening, consider moving their walks to the morning instead. Taking your dog for a long walk or a run every morning is much better than in the evening. This way you can tire them out before you go to work. This way, they can go to sleep when you go to work and spend a couple of hours resting and not get too bored when you’re away. 

If you don’t really feel like going for a run in the morning, consider going for a bike ride with them running by your side. Cycling is easier and less intense for you than running, but they will still be running and get the same exercise as they normally do with you running.

Encourage them to sleep when you leave

I like to keep things very calm before I leave, this time they are more likely to just go to bed when I’m leaving. Of course this works much better when they already had a good exercise session and are tired and need to rest. 

Don’t excite the dog with anything and keep things very calm. Getting the dog excited with a hug or you getting emotional can get them excited which will make it less likely they will go to sleep when you leave. 

I also sometimes make their bed when I’m leaving the same way I do it at night to signal to them that they can go to bed. This is something you should consider training your dog on when they’re young. 

You should also make sure they have already gone potty and don’t need to. This will take some experimentation with their feeding schedule to figure out your dog’s routine. With time, you will be able to create a routine that involves feeding them at a certain time that ensures they don’t need to go to the bathroom at least for the first few hours after you leave so they can have a good sleep.

Get an interactive Dog Monitor

A great way to make sure your dog doesn’t get bored is to actually talk to them every now and then.

Thankfully, technology has provided us with a great alternative to physically coming home every couple of hours to check in on our pups. You can simply get an interactive dog monitor that you can use to see what your dog is doing at any time, talk to them, let them talk to you, and you can even dispense treats to them while you’re away. 

The monitor I’m using now is the Furbo Dog Monitor, and it’s easily the best dog monitor I’ve used in my life. If you’re looking for the best dog monitor out there, simply get the Furbo and you will not regret it. You can check its current price on Amazon here.

However, there are more affordable alternatives if you want, but they won’t have the same features and I don’t think they will last for as long as the Furbo does. The Furbo really is that well made.

My recommendation for a more affordable alternative is the WoPet Dog Monitor as I’ve gotten some good reviews for it and a couple of my friends seem to really like it and enjoy it. You can check its price on Amazon here.

Get interactive toys

Interactive toys can help your dog get distracted for hours while you’re not there. There are some dogs that really like chew toys, and others that love the toys with puzzles.

My dogs always seem to like both quite equally, so I tend to just get them a couple of each type and let them have fun while I’m not there.

The one toy that my dogs seem to not get enough of is the BarkBox squeak toy. I really didn’t expect it to be this durable but it surprised me, and the dogs seem to be very entertained by the sounds they make.

I also love how there is a little sad cactus hidden inside that they only get when they have already chewed the outside one. It’s a neat little trick that’s quite smart actually.

You can check its current price on Amazon here.

IF you want something with treats, I recommend this Pet Zone IQ treat ball. This interactive puzzle game from Outward hound also deserves some consideration. Check it on Amazon here.

Consider Getting a Second Dog or Cat

Your golden retrievers can actually do great with a second dog or a cat, as you can find out why golden retrievers are so good with cats here. I have also discussed there how to introduce your dog and cat to each other.  

Getting a second dog or a cat can give your dog the kind of companionship they need when you’re not around. They will keep each other’s company and play together, making the time they spend at home much more fun than if you only had one of them. 

You might be wondering if a cat can have the same effect as a dog, and the answer is no, two dogs in my experience have always had more fun together than a dog and a cat, and that’s because cats are just perfectly fine with staying at home alone while dogs are not. Cats do not seem to get bored as easily as dogs dog. 

However, having a cat can still have a good impact and will give your dog companionship still. If you can’t get a second dog, I think getting a cat is still better than nothing. But remember that a cat is still a responsibility and will have their own needs just like your dog.

If Possible, Get Home for Lunch

Do you work close to home? If so, consider getting home for lunchtime. Going home in the middle of the day to greet your dog and check in on them will break up this 8-hour separation period into more manageable two 4-hour periods, which are much easier for your dog to tolerate. 

Try to make the best use out of this lunch break time. Spending even a few minutes interacting with them, playing with them, and praising them for being so good while you’re away can go along way. 

This also teaches your dog that you are not going to be away for long the next time you leave, which is just easier to handle for them than if they knew that every time you leave you do so for 8 hours or more. 

Give them access to the outside if you can

If your house has a fenced backyard that your dog can spend some time there, you should make them a doggy door that they can use to access the outside when they’re bored. 

However, if you have an escape artist, this may not be the best idea. It’s also not such a good idea if your dog is not spayed or neutered yet. 

Once your dog is mature, well-trained, and spayed or neutered, it’s a very good idea to give them access to the backyard where they can enjoy some sun and fresh air.

They can also entertain themselves by running around or maybe chasing some insects. 

If you are living in a rural area, I would first make sure there are no coyotes in the Area. You can learn more about the dangers of coyotes on Golden retrievers here. You should take a few minutes reading this post as I’ve also added the five ways you can protect your dog from coyotes there.

Coyotes are also a danger on Labradors, learn more here.

What about a dog walker?

You can also consider hiring a dog walker from a service like Wagwalker if you’re okay with it. Make sure to choose a trusted dog walker with as many reviews as possible.

Some services are more trustworthy than others, and for a cautious dog owner like myself, I tend to take my time choosing a dog walker that I can trust and then simply stick with them. 

I usually interview the walker pretty well and make sure to get some details about them that makes me trust them and ask them about their history with dogs before I can actually let them walk my dogs when I’m not alone.

I recommend you do the same and just follow simple safety precautions. Treat them as you treat babysitters because they are very much the same. 

Ask someone to dog-sit for a couple of hours

Do you have a neighbor or a friend who lives close by and whose work hours allow them to spend a few hours at home when you’re at work? You can ask them to spend some time at your place with your dog or take your dog to their house to spend some time with them. 

I often find a neighbor that also has dogs and try to figure out a schedule where I take all the dogs for playdates on some days when I’m home and they do the same on other days. This way we kind of do each other good service and keep our dogs happy at all times. 

I also honestly just find this safer (and more affordable) than dog walkers. I would much rather my dog spend time with a neighbor or a friend that I’ve known for years than with a stranger whom I’ve only known through an app. 

Ask someone to check in during the day

If your close by neighbor or friend doesn’t really have time to spend with your dog, they can simply swing by and check in on the dog.

This serves to give the dog some attention and show them that they’re still cared.

It also distracts them for a few minutes and the friend can tell you if something is off, such as if your dog is barking, whining, or if they’re sick.

I had a friend once think that this means they don’t a need a monitor, or that if they have a monitor, they don’t need the friend checking in. Both sides of this are wrong because it’s not an “either/or” situation when leaving your pooch at home alone.

Both are great, if you can get one, then good, if you can get both, great, the more ways you can keep your dog occupied the better. You want them to not get bored, and more stimuli will do a better job than a few.

Consider enrolling them in a doggy daycare

If you live in an area where a doggy daycare is available near you, this will be one of the best options. A doggy daycare is a daycare center for dogs, and dogs often have a lot of fun spending time there because there will be many other dogs and a few humans to play with (and the humans will do the supervision).

A doggy daycare is one option that makes sure your dog doesn’t get bored at all while you’re at work, and it’s really good for their socialization skills as they will always meet new dogs there.

They are also not that more expensive than a dog walker but they will keep the dog occupied for much longer than the hour the walker will spend with them. 

There are only two things to consider with a doggy daycare; the first is simple; it’s whether they’re trustworthy, because some doggy daycare recently have been found to have employees that mistreated the dogs to the point of abuse.

The other thing worth consideration is whether your dog gets alone well with the other dogs.

If your dog doesn’t do well with new dogs from the start, this may not be the best option or you may need to do some work on socializing them with the dogs there at first.

Thankfully, it’s quite rare for this breed to not get along well with other dogs. You can learn why they’re so friendly and happy all the time here.

Ask if you can bring in your dog to work

A lot of modern offices are very accepting of pets, and especially dogs. Ask if you could bring in your dog to work at least one day a week. You could try to encourage the company to establish a “bring your dog to work day” and make it a monthly or a weekly thing. 

I bet there are a couple of pet owners around the office that would wholeheartedly support you and if the management sees popular support for the idea, they are quite likely to agree. 

Hint: Show them your dog’s cute pictures, it’s very hard to say no to puppy eyes.

Ask if you can work from home

If you work an office job, you can ask them if you could work a day or two from home every week.

This could make it much easier for your dog to tolerate the three remaining days you will work from the office and leave them alone. 

You can also ask them if you can work for a few hours every day from home and then go spend the rest of the day at the office.

This option is easier to tolerate for some businesses if you already have an established workflow that includes a few routine items such as replying to emails, checking numbers, and filling in spreadsheets – all things you can do from home with the same efficiency as you would have done from the office.

Include this point in your negotiation and try to communicate that you will be more productive during the remainder of the work day when you feel better about leaving your dog alone at home since the hours are cut shorter.

Can I just leave them in a crate?

No, you can’t leave your dog in a crate for hours every day while they’re alone at home. This is a very bad idea and it will lead to your dog quickly developing behavioral problems that will take time and effort to reverse.

Dogs should only be left in crates when needed to, such as when going on an airplane or for their own safety. Crate training is important while they’re young because you will definitely need to leave them in a crate at some point, but it should never be your go-to option and never your first choice.

Related Questions

Do Golden Retrievers get lonely?

Yes, Golden Retrievers can get lonely if they are left alone for long periods of time. You shouldn’t leave your dog alone at home for more than 6-to-8 hours every day.

Do Golden Retrievers have separation anxiety?

Yes, Golden Retrievers can develop separation anxiety and they are more prone to it than other dogs. In fact, it’s the most common behavioral problem in golden retrievers because they are very attached to their owners.

Leaving your dog alone for more than 6 hours every day or neglecting to train them when they’re young to be left alone can lead them to develop separation anxiety when they grow up and you leave them alone every day as you go to work.

Sources

Training your dog to be left alone

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