Are you thinking about getting a German Shepherd but worried whether it is a sensible move because you work? The issue of leaving a dog alone is both complex and critical. By asking this question, you are showing that you would be a responsible dog owner.
It is certainly possible to leave a German Shepherd if you have to go out to work. However, it will require some understanding of potential problems, and what solutions can be employed.
In this article, I want to lead you through this topic and provide helpful answers.
Can a German Shepherd be Left Alone?
Before we start a detailed look at the topic, here are some key points to understand.
Do German Shepherds Cry a Lot?
German Shepherds are a great breed to own, but they can frequently be very vocal. If they want something, then they will tell the world by whining, crying, or barking. The solution is to make sure that if they are left alone, they have everything they need.
Can German Shepherds Be Left Outside?
While it is good to give your dog time outside in the fresh air, they should not be left out there all the time. German Shepherds are social animals and must spend time with people if they are to really thrive.
We will now take a more detailed examination of this topic.
Potential Problems Leaving a German Shepherd Alone
There are so many things that can go wrong if your German Shepherd is left alone, and you have made no precautions in advance.
The most noticeable issues can include:
– Your furniture is chewed and knocked over
– You will find that the dog has discovered some less desirable places to poo and pee.
– Your dog has decided that shoes, TV remotes, and any other small object have been provided as a dog toy for chewing.
– Your sofa has become a great place to dig and bury all these new-found treasures.
You should remember that our modern-day dogs have their roots in wolves. Wolves are a pack animal that lives within a rigid social structure. Modern dogs accommodate this instinct by behaving as if the family is the pack, and they work out a hierarchy within that pack. As a pack animal, they are unhappy if separated from the rest of the pack. They will have no hesitation about telling the world that they are unhappy.
The problems that you have with your dog that is left alone will not just be limited to destructive behavior (that is bad enough). It may also manifest if anxiety problems and physical health issues. Then, of course, you may also face the challenge of noise. Barking, whining, and howling can be a significant problem, especially if your neighbors are close.
Crates Are Not The Solution
Sometimes when discussing this problem, you will hear people suggest crates. Even though a dog quite likes his box, because it is a secure place, a spot in the house that is exclusively his, it is not ok to leave your dog in a crate all day.
If you leave your dog in a crate all day, several problems can occur. Being restricted in a small area can be quite damaging to your dog’s health. There is also the problem of when your dog wants to pee and poo. Your dog has an instinct not to do those things in his sitting spot, but leave the dog crated all day, and he has no choice. Apart from being unpleasant, it can create anxiety in the dog.
Do German Shepherds Suffer From Separation Anxiety?
Separation anxiety occurs when a dog gets upset because they are being left alone, away from their owner. Dogs may sometimes attempt extreme measures to escape so they can look for their owner. These attempts are so desperate that they frequently cause injury to the dog.
Some symptoms of separation anxiety are:
6. Trying to escape
When they see the owner beginning preparation to leave, some dogs become depressed, and others will become agitated. They know what is going to happen and are showing that they are not happy about it.
Within a few moments of the owner leaving the dog may well start to bark and show all the other symptoms of stress.
The Maximum Time You Should Leave Your German Shepherd?
In the United States, there is not a law that specifies how long you can leave a dog alone. The Animal Welfare Dog has a mention of the subject, but this only applies to dogs being bred commercially or during transportation. Some states have regulations about neglect.
Generally, in North America, it is frowned upon to leave a dog for longer than four hours. Among dog care professionals, there is some degree of uncertainty of exactly how long, with a few people saying six hours may be ok. That would be an absolute maximum and would be in the ideal conditions.
In the UK experts also recommend that a limit of four hours should be the limit. The UK has also published a code of practice for the welfare of dogs. This document was provided to assist owners in adhering to the British Animal Welfare Act.
Putting the law aside, vets and other professionals clearly state that leaving a dog for too long is not recommended, as it is harmful to the dog.
Do German Shepherds Sleep a Lot?
A German Shepherd can be alert and full of life with very little sleep. However, the average adult German Shepherd dog will sleep for 14 hours a day on average. Puppies and elderly animals will require longer and will sleep for around 20 hours.
In a natural environment, the German Shepherd won’t sleep in set patterns. They will typically nap during the 24 hours. Puppies will require more extended periods of regular sleep. If your German Shepherd appears to be lethargic and always tired, it may be a symptom of boredom or an incorrect diet.
When You Leave Your Dog
Having said that, most professionals only recommend a maximum of four to six hours being left alone. It is a fact that many people do leave their dogs for a full working day.
The environment and conditions where you leave your dog have an impact on how well your dog will cope with your absence.
Is There an Exercise Space?
Leaving your dog in a crate for a whole day is just wrong. There cannot be an excuse for doing that. If you cannot leave your dog free during your absence, then the very minimum conditions should be a “puppy pen.” This pen is very much like a child’s playpen and confines the dog to a specific area. Even if the dog is physically able to jump the barrier, very often, they will remain within the pen if taught correctly.
What About Going Potty?
With an adult dog, they should be able to last for eight to ten hours without peeing. Puppies will not be able to hold it as long, and the general rule is that they can keep it for their age in months plus one hour. So for a three-month-old dog, that will be a maximum of four hours.
Bear in mind that these are the maximum periods, and health issues may arise if the dog is holding it in too long. One such problem is urinary tract infection, which can lead to urinary stones.
Can Your Dog Get Something To Drink?
If you want a healthy dog, then water as a critical factor. You should ensure that your dog has access to plenty of water all through the day. This is especially important in warm weather. Remember that if your dog is confined to a puppy pen while you are out, that the movement of the sun may leave the dog in full sunlight for some of the time. You may need to purchase an extra water bowl or invest in a water dispenser.
How Will Your German Shepherd Amuse Himself While You’re Gone?
If you intend to leave your dog for an extended period, you should always ensure he gets a pleasant walk before you have to go. This walk should include some time interacting with your dog. The point of this intention is to tire out the dog both physically and mentally.
The ideal dog toys for when you are absent are toys that offer some degree of challenge to the dog. That can be something as simple as a Kong toy, which you fill with goodies, leaving the dog to work on extracting them, which takes time. The toy is shaped so that it makes bounces that are not predictable. It has a hollow center that can be filled with treats that you can freeze so that it takes the dog several hours to empty the center.
Another similar toy is the Pet Zone Treat ball, which releases treats as it rolls around. The dog gets a workout moving the ball to access the tidbits, and it keeps the dog amused.
The ultimate dog accessory is the Furbo Dog Camera, which allows you, using your cell-phone to talk to your dog and see him on the attached webcam. If the device hears barking, it notifies you on your phone. You can view your dog, talk to him to calm him down, and using the app, toss the dog a treat. It is an excellent way of keeping track of what is going on at home and reassuring your dog. Its ability to throw a dog treat allows you to reward your dog for good behavior.
Another way you can reassure your dog is by setting up your laptop or interactive TV to run a loop of a playlist you created for your dog. This loop could include videos of you talking.
Or you could tune into one of the many channels on YouTube that has specialized in creating content to entertain dogs.
What about German Shepherd Puppies?
As already stated, you should not leave you’re your puppies as long as adult dogs. However, while a puppy is young, you should ensure that it learns to be left alone occasionally.
You should make sure that it experiences more extended periods of being alone gradually so that when it is an adult dog, it will not be panicked the very first time you leave it. Stick to the age plus one rule (see above) for working out how long you should leave the puppy.
At What Age Will My German Shepherd Calm Down?
German Shepherds will eventually calm down. It is difficult to predict when that will happen, but it should be between the ages of six months and three years. The more time you spend training the dog, the sooner that day will come.
Ways To Responsibly Leave Your German Shepherd at Home
You have no choice, you have to work, but you care about the welfare of your dog. Your dog means a great deal to you, and you want to do the best for them. So, what should you do, as a responsible dog owner, to make your dog’s alone time as pleasant as possible?
If you’re looking for what’s best for your dog; then, the following suggestions should be considered.
Hire Someone To Walk Your Dog
The ideal solution is to hire someone to come in to get your dog and take him for a long walk. They will tire him out at the midpoint of your absence. Your dog will be distracted; it will enjoy the walk and get some needed exercise.
1. Your dog’s health will benefit, and you add years to their life
2. When your dog uses his energy on a walk, he is less likely to be destructive at home
3. You will relax, knowing that your dog is being taken care of.
1. You have to find the right dog walker who fits your needs.
2. You have to trust them with the key to your home
3. It is an extra expense. ($15 to $30 for 30 minutes)
The AKC suggests you talk to friends and local people to see if they can recommend someone, or you may ask your vet if they know of a good one.
Another solution is “doggy daycare.” With doggy daycare, you are not just paying for someplace where you can leave your dog; you should expect a great deal more. An efficient daycare will provide the following:
· A safe environment for your dog
· The area to be supervised
· Mental stimulation for all of the dogs, where each dog is monitored
· Social contact. Dogs like to see their friends and socialize
· Flexible sessions
· Mitigation of any separation anxiety issues
· They will ensure that the dog is not overstimulated/excited.
· All dogs should have proof of vaccination before attending
Like with a daycare center for a child, the staff to pupil ratio is critical. With doggy daycare, the absolute maximum number of dogs per team member should be 15, preferably fewer.
Make a point of going to visit potential doggy daycare centers and watch how attentive the staff are to the dogs under there care. If ever you hear a member of staff say “the dogs will sort it out’” that should be the moment to walk out that door. The staff is paid to monitor and care for your dog.
The previous two options may well be beyond the financial resources of some people so unsuitable. But, have you considered finding out if it is possible to take your dog to work? A growing number of workplaces welcome a dog as a way of relieving stress for all the staff. Obviously, it is not going to be possible with all employment, but it can work with some jobs.
Get a Neighbor To Help
If none of the above is possible, then is there perhaps a neighbor who can just call in a couple of times a day and let you dog into the yard for a while so it can exercise and go potty?
Do you live far from your workplace? Is it possible to come home at lunchtime and let the dog out into the yard, and throw a few balls for him? Once again, this will hardly cost anything, just your gas.
As dog lovers, our dogs are part of the family, and we want what is best for them. Unfortunately, the realities of life frequently mean that we have to go to work and leave our dog at home. This situation has always been the case, and dogs have always been left alone.
Being a responsible dog owner is never easy. In taking the time to read this article, it has proved that you take dog-owning seriously. You have gone to the lengths of educating yourself on the subject of how to be a responsible dog owner and still leave your German Shepherd at home while you work. You will understand that leaving your dog for too long is harmful to the dog, and you have studied ways of mitigating that harm.
I hope that you have enjoyed reading this article and have learned a lot about your German Shepherd from it.
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