How Long Can a Golden Retriever Be Left Alone?

An adult Golden Retriever should only be left alone for 4-6 hours at a time, and they should never go past 8 hours home alone. For puppies or elderly Golden Retrievers, the time they can spend alone is even less because they’ll need more frequent bathroom breaks and care from you.

There are some things to consider before you leave your Golden Retriever alone, and tips for making time apart easier for your Golden Retriever. Read on for everything you need to know about leaving your pooch home alone.

Things to Consider Before Leaving Your Golden Retriever Home Alone

Some Golden Retrievers will be able to handle being alone better than others will. But every Golden Retriever would agree that being home alone isn’t their favourite thing. 

The exact time your Golden Retriever can be home alone will vary depending on their personality, age, training, physical health, and emotional health. But always avoid leaving them for more than 8 hours at a time.

Depending on your answers to the following questions, your Golden Retriever’s time home alone might be shorter than the suggested 4-6 hours:

  • Is your Golden Retriever house trained?
  • Does your Golden Retriever get anxious when you’re not there?
  • How regularly does your Golden Retriever go to the toilet?
  • Is the house dog-proof and safe?
  • How much space does your Golden Retriever have?
  • Is the temperature stable?

Also, make sure that your Golden Retriever has plenty of food and water during the day, and that they’re secure and comfortable while they wait for you to return home.

If your Golden Retriever isn’t trained (or if they are trained but in a bad mood), you might return to damaged furniture and surprise piles of poop and puddles of urine.

If you haven’t yet got your Golden Retriever, it’s worth considering whether you’ll spend enough time at home to match their needs. If you work long, unsocial hours, perhaps it isn’t the right time to get a new dog.

How Long Can Golden Retriever Puppies Be Left Alone?

While adult Golden Retrievers can be left alone for 4-6 hours at a time, it’s far less for puppies. In the first six months of their life, the pups will mainly do a lot of sleeping, eating, and running around but they still need supervision.

As a general guide for a Golden Retriever puppy:

Age of PuppyTime Left Alone
0 – 8 weeks None!
8 – 10 weeks 1 hour (max)
2 – 3 months2 hours (max)
3 – 4 months3 hours (max)
4 – 6 months4 hours (max)

Up to the 6-month stage, they’ll need to go to the toilet every couple of hours, they can only hold it for one hour for every month of age. 

How Long Can Elderly Golden Retriever Be Left Alone?

Once a Golden Retriever reaches 8 or 9 years old, you’ll need to decrease the time they spend alone. 

They’ll need toilet breaks more often and if they take sick, they can deteriorate quickly. Any Goldie with a pre-existing medical condition might need medication or care if they’re in pain. So, having someone around to keep an eye on them can put both your and their mind at ease.

Keeping your older Golden Retriever pal company will also mean that they’re less anxious and far more comfortable. At the end of the day, they’ll be happiest when they’re with you. 

Tips on Improving Your Golden Retriever’s Alone Time

If your Golden Retriever has to spend time alone, try following these tips to make their time alone as enjoyable as possible or to find an alternative to alone time:

  • Arrange a doggy daycare: If you have the budget and there’s a daycare local to where you live, consider enrolling your Golden for some socialisation and to leave them in capable hands while you’re busy.
  • Hire a dog sitter or dog walker: While you’re not home, the next best thing is having someone else home. You can hire a professional or recruit friends or family to keep your Golden Retriever company and to let them exercise while you’re out.
  • Provide mental stimulation: As intelligent dogs, they can get bored easily, and boredom usually equals destruction. Getting them toys like a KONG or puzzle will keep their attention for a while. Make sure to vary the toys regularly too.
  • Turn the TV or the radio on: Leaving something on with human voices will be comforting and make them feel less alone. You can also pick a classical music channel or something that serves as background noise.
  • Check on them: If you’re within a reasonable distance of your home, popping in to see them, letting them go to the toilet, or taking them on a quick walk will break up the day and give them a boost until you return later.
  • Try a pet camera: This allows you to see what your Golden Retriever is doing and remotely speak to them. 
  • Bring your Goldie with you: If possible, see if your Golden Retriever can come to work with you. This won’t be possible in every job, but it’ll solve the problem of leaving them alone.

What Should I Do if I Return Home to an Accident or Damage

If you come home and find that your Golden Retriever has chewed your favourite slippers, left a patch of urine on the carpet, or worse, then it’s important not to get angry.

You’ll need to firmly remind them of their training, but do so in a calm, cool voice. Never physically hit your Golden Retriever, and don’t start shouting either.

It could have been out of fear, loneliness, boredom, anxiety, or something else entirely. Sometimes medical issues or pain cause out-of-character behaviour. Remember that they’re so relieved to see you home and aren’t likely to have done it on purpose.

Does My Golden Retriever Have Separation Anxiety?

Separation anxiety is when a dog has extreme anxiety over being apart from their owner. This is common when they’ve spent a lot of time together and become dependent. 

As Golden Retrievers are such loyal, intelligent, and loving dogs, they love being by their owner’s side. When you’re not there, they’ll miss you terribly. 

For more information on separation anxiety, check out this link or this link.

How Can I Spot Separation Anxiety in My Golden Retriever?

If you’re unsure whether your Golden Retriever is suffering from separation anxiety, look out for these other signs that might indicate it:

  • Trembling.
  • Their tail is tucked in.
  • Hiding away.
  • Pacing.
  • Inability to control their bladder.
  • Whining, barking, or howling.
  • Panting.
  • Drooling.
  • Scratching or chewing furniture.

These signs all indicate that your Golden Retriever is stressing out and doesn’t want you to leave. While it isn’t realistic that you’ll be able to avoid leaving, read on for how to help them overcome this anxiety.

How to Help My Golden Retriever Overcome Separation Anxiety

If your Golden Retriever has separation anxiety when you leave, check out these tips which might make their time home alone a little easier:

  • Give them extra love and cuddles when you come back: Your Golden Retriever will have been anxiously counting down the seconds until your return. Making a big fuss of them will show them that you love and miss them too.
  • Give them things to occupy them in your absence: Make sure that they’ve exercised beforehand and have plenty of toys and snacks to keep them busy. This should help prevent destructive behaviour and loneliness.
  • Train them gradually to spend time alone: If you hardly ever leave, try to gradually increase your time out of the house to get your Golden Retriever used to being left home alone.
  • Get them a companion: Having a friend to pass the time and play with makes the world of difference. To help you decide which dog will fit into your family best, check out this article.

If you’re struggling with separation anxiety, consider speaking to a professional like a dog trainer for further advice.

Summary

The takeaway from this is that Golden Retrievers shouldn’t be left alone for more than 4-6 hours. And this is even less for puppies and elderly Goldies.

You can make their time alone easier by following tips or you can make arrangements for someone else to take care of them while you’re away. 

If you’re unsure about whether a Golden Retriever would fit into your lifestyle, check out these posts:

Related Questions

Should I Put My Golden Retriever in Their Crate While I’m Out?

If your Golden Retriever is used to being in a crate, then it’s fine to crate them while you’re out – but only for around 6-8 hours per day. Any longer than this, and it could negatively affect them – they’ll need the toilet and to stretch their legs. It can also be detrimental to their mental health. 

Why Doesn’t My Dog Want Me to Leave After COVID?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of the pets around the world found themselves at home 24/7 with their owner and family. Having got used to their people being at home, the dogs will be quite confused when the world returns to normal. This could be a form of separation anxiety and disruption from the routine change.

How Long Can I Legally Leave My Dog Alone?

There isn’t a specific law for how long you can leave your Golden Retriever home alone. Though most people will agree that 4-6 hours is the ballpark. There are, however, laws regarding neglect and cruelty to animals – leaving a dog for upwards of 8 hours a day would risk their welfare.

Can I Have a Golden Retriever if I Work Full Time?

Yes, you can have a Golden Retriever if you work full time, but if you’re out of the house for hours then you’ll need to make alternate arrangements. This could be a doggy daycare or a dog sitter, or another way to make sure your Golden Retriever’s needs are met. Watch out for if they’re lonely and make sure you adjust your plans if you have a puppy or elderly Golden.

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