How long can you leave your golden retriever alone? 

6 Hours. Now this is not a golden rule and you cannot expect a 4 week old golden retriever puppy to stay alone for 6 hours. That’s not practical or wise and it’s very irresponsible as pet owners to leave a young pet alone at home for even a few hours. Before you leave a pet alone for a period of 6 hours, it requires a lot of training. They need to feel comfortable with their environment, Food to eat, water to drink and activity of some form to keep them occupied. 

About the golden retriever and their socializing needs

Golden retrievers are family pets. They have a high need for people and pack around them. They love exercises. They are always eager to learn. Attention keeps them going. They are intelligent and caring but if you don’t train them to be left alone, they become aggressive, destructive and prone to behavioral problems related to anxiety and separation disorder. Excessive barking, chewing and destruction follows. When the golden retriever does not know how to keep itself occupied, it creates ways to be occupied. Chewing is the best thing dogs do and they love to do it. Barking is a way to show out their frustration. It’s also one of the few ways they communicate. Training your dog to be left alone is a time consuming process but important nevertheless.

Golden retrievers are social dogs. They are intelligent and most importantly they are working dogs. They need to be around people and doing things. They want to help and they love to do whatever it is they can to please their owners. Being without their owner around is a punishment in itself and punishing a dog for reasons it doesn’t know is bad for both you and the dog. 

Training your golden retriever to be alone

  • Month one – three.
    Your pup needs as much attention as it gets. Even if you feel that you are educated and well versed in puppy care, no one can care for the pup better than its mother itself. Professionals will tell you that a pup should not be separated from its litter before 8 weeks. 12 weeks is the right time for the pup to be separated from its mother. By this time, most pups can feed and groom on their own. They are happy and with enough attention will not suffer from the anxiety of being away from its mother.
  • Week 9 to 12.
    The Fourth month is usually the starting point for a lot of training. Potty training, Small tricks like sit and stay and even training them to be alone for a short span of time. Most dog owners find it hard to keep their pet alone for even a short span of time unless they are in a crate or caged. This is not a practice recommended for training dogs to be alone. They need to be out of the crate and in a comfortable zone to begin with. Use their bed as a space for them to be comfortable , safe and the go to zone. Encourage them to be on their bed for a few minutes. Move away . It may be hard the first few times but eventually. They will stay for a minute, then a bit more. This will continue up to 5 – 10 minutes. This is a good beginning. Don’t expect your dog to stay away for more than 10 minutes for the first month.
  • Month 5 -6
    Leave your dog alone in one room with the doors closed for a few minutes. When they start barking , command them to ensure that you are around, But let them out a minute later. Continue the practice, increasing the time a little more for a month or two. After a few weeks of practice, leave your home for 5-6 minutes with the dog in its usual spot. They will come out with the door open and not find you. Ensure that you are back and treat them. Increase the time by 5 minutes every second day. The dog will be assured that you will return soon and will expect you. 
  • Month 10-1 year
    Most dogs will be used to being left alone for 3-4 hours without a problem. Ensure that you pet your dog when you enter. Treat them well and feed them immediately. Take them for a walk and exercise them as much as you can immediately after you return. They always look forward to your getting back and this is the small treat for them.

Also ensure that you exercise them before you leave home. Draining their energy as much as you can ensures that they will be encouraged to rest. Leave them enough water and food for the next few hours. 

Be warned that dogs will occasionally chew on things they find interesting. Remote controls are often the enemy for my dog but it varies from dog to dog. If they can’t find something to entertain themselves with , they will entertain themselves with whatever comes in their way.

What happens if a dog is left alone for more than 6 hours?

Most dog owners are working parents. Our dogs need to be at home for more than 8 hours, sometimes longer. Is it even practical to own a dog when your responsibilities and time takes so much of a toll? Dog owners are like parents and we need to make the same kind of sacrifices and preparations that we take for children

Sometimes it’s important to have a pet sitter. Maybe we could ask the neighbour to help with looking after the dog when you are gone for the day or maybe just feed the dog and take it for a walk when you are away. If you cannot make arrangements for someone to take care of your dog when you are gone for a longer period of time, expect accidents. It’s not the dog’s mistake . It’s yours.

Dogs are social creatures. They need to be around other dogs and humans to fulfil their emotional needs. Golden retrievers are working dogs. They need to be active and around humans. The more the better. When you deprive them of their socializing needs, they will tend to show signs of anxiety. Incessant barking is the beginning of the problem. If your neighbours complain about barking when you are not around, just take note. This is the beginning of the problem and it’s time to take measures of correction. It’s not late yet and it will be sooner than you know. Don’t be angry or frustrated when you find part of your furniture missing or your favourite pillow opened up and shredded. 

Dogs left for 8 hours or more will start experiencing anxiety and separation disorders. Whining, barking and chewing are all signs of the same and if not corrected immediately it will become a practice which cannot be controlled. 

Use of crates while you are away

Using crates to train your dog to be alone is not a good option. Though pets can be trained to like their crates and feel safe in them, its bad for pets to stay in crates for extended period of time. Crates restrict movement. With lack of movement for extended period of time, your pets will face health issues including arthritis and other movement related problems. Dogs are active animals. They walk, run and play around the entire day and restricting them to a crate is like restricting someone in a small space 8 waking hours a day. Its more or less what most prisoners get when they are in isolation. That would be disastrous. We have a possibility of heart diseases, arthritis, joint problems and even depression if we would spend 8 hours in a space so small. For a dog this is a lot worse. 

Crate training should be limited and surely not used for keeping your pets alone while you are working. 

Hiring a Pet sitter or a dog walker

Pet sitters and dog walkers are available in certain areas. Find someone who can walk your dog 2 times a day or even once when you are gone. If you can find a pet sitter who can take your pet for a walk and care for him while you are away, its a great help for both you and your pet. You may never know, there are people who would love a dog but cant have them at home always for several reasons. They would Take care of your pet for an additional money and they may simply love it.

Find a home where there are kids (if your dog is trained to be with kids and is safe). Kids are usually full time partners for your dogs. Both , your dog and the child will find company in each other. Your dog sitter too will be forced to keep the dog longer at their place because it helps their child in several ways. Apart from having the child occupied, the dog feels happy around children. 

Dog walkers are not easy to come by and it requires someone you trust to leave your home keys with. Apart from the home keys, you need to trust the person with the dog too. Teenagers may be willing to take your dog for a walk for that extra money but they may not be good with dogs and lack the training to care for your pet. They may also be a bit careless. A dog walker needs to be responsible whatever age they are.

Day care for dogs

If you cannot find a dog walker or a dog sitter, find a day care for dogs. There are day care for pets which may feed and walk your dog while you are away. Your pets will have their entire day with other dogs and socialize. They will be taken care of and fed. Exercise is often abundant in most day cares for dogs and your dog will be eager every day to go to the dog day care. 

Some day cares are disney world for dogs. Plenty of toys. A lot of friends and food when they are hungry. Dogs love it and they are eager to meet you every evening when you return. 

Dog day cares will add up to your cost, but its a wonderful option for pet owners who cannot be at home for an extended period of time every day.