Can German shepherds be left alone?

Can German shepherds be left alone

German Shepherds are the canine royalties who are extremely attached to their owners. They will follow you possibly anywhere, just to be around. However, because most people have a professional life, taking dogs everywhere is not always possible.

Working individuals or anyone thinking of adopting a German Shepherd may be wondering, Can German Shepherds be left alone? Or how long can German Shepherds stay alone? And more such questions.

Before we get into deep details, let’s clear it here quickly. Yes, you can leave your German Shepherd alone at home. As long as you do it correctly and do not stretch the hours, the process will go smoothly.

In this comprehensive guide, you will learn whether your German Shepherd dog can be left alone or not. How long can you leave your GSD alone and does it suffer from separation anxiety? We will also share some tips if you absolutely have to leave your dog outside. For having an intelligent understanding of the topic, go through the guide below. With that said, let’s get started.

Article Published on 3rd November 2021 » Updated on 15th January 2022

aditi chef editorWritten By Sergey Uhanov Certified Veterinarian.
Sergey Uhanov is a certified veterinarian for dogs over 10 years, breeding 3 dogs. He loves dogs and has his own pet clinic in Israel. He likes to help other people with their dogs by sharing his experience and knowledge.

Can German shepherds be left alone?

Yes, German Shepherds can be left alone if you leave them in their comfortable space. If it is the space your dog knows and is customary for, there’s no worry about leaving them alone for some time.

However, if you let them alone in a new and alien place, things can get really out of hand. For example, you have just moved to a new house, or you want to leave your dog at your friend’s home.

If any of these spaces are new for your Shepherd, alone time can take a toll on their mental health and home’s condition.

How long can German Shepherds stay alone?

For how many hours you can leave your German Shepherd alone depends upon various factors. These factors include the dog’s age, health, physical condition, training, and so on

Here’s a brief review of how long you can leave your German Shepherd alone under various circumstances:


Firstly, if you have a German Shepherd pup at home, avoid leaving them alone. Especially puppies who are not even four weeks old require constant supervision.

From feeding them milk every hour to making them frequently poop, as a pup parent, you have multiple jobs. It is quite similar to managing a human baby. However, once Shepherds are a little grown, you can leave them alone for a few to multiple hours.

Puppies who are 8 to 10 weeks old- not more than an hour
Puppies who are 2 to 3 months old- not more than 2 hours
Puppies who are 3 to 4 months old- not more than 3 hours
Puppies who are 5 months and old- not more than 4 hours

Remember, puppies cannot control their bowel. The number of hours they will hold their bowl is proportional (+ and – 1 hour) to their age.

For example, a 1-month-old puppy will possibly poop every 1 hour. Similarly, a three months old puppy will poop every 2 to 4 hours. Thus, avoid leaving them for long or be ready to clean a mess once you return.

Adolescent Dogs

Adolescent Dogs means your Shepherd is anywhere between 6 to 16 months. By now, they will develop an eating schedule and learn to control their bowel thus; you do not have to worry much about these two things.

However, adolescent dogs thrive on attention and affection from their humans. At this age, they are also high-on energy and full of curiosity. Therefore, leaving them alone for longer may destroy your house.

Avoid staying out any more than 4 hours per day.

Adult Dogs

Once your German Shepherd has touched the age of 18 months, he is an adult and a self-reliant dog. If they are well trained, they will have a schedule you are well-versed about. Except that, they will not require human supervision.

However, as per experts, leaving an adult Shepherd for more than 5 hours a day is not recommended. German Shepherds are pack animals, and thus, they want someone around them constantly.

It may be a dog friend or a human companion. If not you, leaving someone behind your dog knows and is safe with is advisable.

Senior and Old Dogs

Dogs who have touched the age of 9 or 10, or are even older, need regular human supervision. With age, dogs lose control over their bladder and become prone to digestive issues. As a result, they may need to go out for the toilet multiple times a day.

Also, a German Shepherd, with age, becomes prone to hip and elbow dysplasia. As a result, they may develop cataracts or even lose their eyesight.

Thus, for senior Shepherds, leaving them alone besides their sleeping hours is not recommended.

If your dog is suffering from any age-related medical conditions, either leave a family member behind. Or hire a dog expert who can look after and fulfill your Shepherd’s needs.

Do German Shepherds Suffer from Separation Anxiety?

Due to their acute attachment with their owners, German Shepherds suffer from separation anxiety. The breed is loyal and extremely affectionate and loves spending time with their humans.

So even if you welcome guests at home, your Shepherd dog will mingle with them as well. German shepherds, when left alone, become upset. If the pattern continues frequently and longer, they will start showing aggression and other signs of rough behavior.

At times your dog may even try to escape through windows just to find its owners.

Some of the common signs of separation anxiety include,

  • Trying to escape,
  • urination,
  • barking,
  • howling,
  • panting,
  • defecation,
  • digging,
  • chewing,
  • and making destruction inside the home.

Home Alone- Keeping your German Shepherd Safe and Entertained

If you plan to leave your Shepherd home alone, you cannot simply go out and lock them inside.

As a sensitive and caring owner, it is your job to first prepare the dog for staying alone and then move forward. Here are a few tips that may help you:

  • Start with leaving the dog alone for very little time. Maybe you are just going to your society compound for 15 minutes, here leave the dog home alone.
  • Do not just sneak out, but leave with confidence and assure your dog that you will be back soon.
  • Dogs may not speak, but they understand human body language and intonation. If you leave in panic, your dog will sense it and will become restless himself.
  • Tire the dog enough before you go out. For example, establish an exercise routine every day before you leave the house. This will make the Shepherd tired, making him relax and sleep while you are away (at least most of the time).
  • If you have a daily office job, instead of adopting a grown-up Shepherd, go for small ones instead.

German Shepherd though is affectionate to their owners, but if you teach them to stay alone from a young age, they will develop the habit easily. Training adult dogs for the same is more of a task.

  • Leave an extra bowl of water and enough food for their requirement within their approach.
  • Make sure you took them out for pooping and peeing just before you left. For more arrangements, you can leave pee pads lined at home. Train your dog to release there only in case of emergency.
  • Some dog toys, especially puzzles, will ensure their mental stimulation and keep them busy.
  • Leave the window curtains open so that the dog can see the world outside.
  • And lastly, avoid making a fuss about your leaving and arriving. The more calmly you will take the process, the more cooperative your pet will behave.

Can German Shepherds manage it alone outside?

Yes, if you have a big and well-maintained yard, you can surely leave your German Shepherd outside.

With moderate and bearable temperatures and appropriate shelter arrangements, you can leave your dog outside for long hours.

Tips for leaving German Shepherd alone outside:

  • Avoid leaving your Shepherd outside for long until you have a safe and closed space (garden, backyard or porch).
  • Because German Shepherd has a thick coat, they may not do well outside on summer days. Thus, avoid leaving them outside if the temperature is above 80-degree Fahrenheit.
  • Regardless of thick coat, avoid leaving your Shepherd outside if it is about or below 40-degree Fahrenheit. When exposed to extremely low temperatures for long hours, they may get hypothermia and frostbites.
  • Always maintain a shelter or shaded space for the dog. So that, when required, they can choose to sleep and relax.
  • Make sure your garden or yard does not happen to attract any reptiles or animals: especially poisonous lizards, snakes, or others who can hurt your canine buddy.
  • Ensure your garden does not have any poisonous plants or plants that are not safe for German Shepherds.
  • Keep separate food and water bowls filled. Plant them in a shaded area.

Wrapping Up

Dogs are a part of a family, but one has to leave the family behind when it is about work. We hope the above guidelines will help you when you plan to leave the dog back next time.

If you own an open yet enclosed outdoor space, instead of confining the dog inside, leave them outside in your absence. With more space and fresh air, they will make it better than indoors.

However, if your dog isn’t that great on its own, then the only option you are left with is dog daycare.


Sergey Uhanov, a certified veterinarian, has authored all of the content here. With over 20 years of experience in dog care and breeding three dogs of his own, he has a deep passion for these furry friends. Sergey owns a pet clinic in Israel where he provides care and treatment to dogs. He enjoys sharing his expertise and knowledge to assist others in caring for their dogs.

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