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Can Golden Retrievers Be Left Alone? Recommendations & Precautions

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By Nicole Cosgrove

a golden retriever labrador mix dog lying on gray couch

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As the owner of a Golden Retriever, you certainly would enjoy spending all your time with your beautiful dog. But because life gets in the way of doing what you want, you may not be able to stay at home with your beloved dog as you’d like.

It’s fine to leave your Golden Retriever alone for a few hours at a time but never for more than 8 hours. As a general rule, 4–6 hours is the recommended time to leave a Golden Retriever alone. If your dog is a growing puppy or geriatric, it will need to go outdoors more frequently to relieve itself, so the time left alone should be shortened.

Golden Retrievers, like other breeds, can develop separation anxiety¹ if left on their own. Dogs with separation anxiety become very anxious and show distressing behaviors like barking, whining, destructive chewing, or relieving themselves when separated from their owners. A dog with this syndrome may also start acting upset and anxious as soon as they see their owner preparing to leave; this may manifest as restlessness, shivering, and shaking.

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Factors to Consider When Deciding How Long Is Too Long

While generally, it’s okay to leave a Golden Retriever home alone for 4–6 hours, this doesn’t apply to all dogs. If your dog has separation anxiety, needs to relieve itself often, or has an underlying health issue that requires your physical presence to assist with administration of medication or otherwise, it is inadvisable to leave your dog to fend for itself for an extended period of time.

If you find yourself in a pickle because you have to leave your dog alone for several hours due to work or other obligations, ask for help. Perhaps you have a neighbor who would gladly visit your dog to let them outside or even take them for a walk. Even if you have to pay someone to dog sit for you, it would be worth it. Remember that your Golden depends on you to do what’s best for them.

golden retriever
Image Credit: LightField Studios, Shutterstock

Things to Do Before Leaving Your Golden Home Alone

Training is key when teaching your Golden to be home alone. That’s why it’s important to start “leave and return” training as soon as you get a dog. The goal of this type of training is to teach your dog that being home alone is OK and that you will indeed return. Here are some steps on how to properly teach your dog to learn that staying home is safe:

  • Put On Your Shoes and Go to the Door: If your dog panics when you do this, try to ignore it so they get used to it. Repeat this process several times a day.
  • Don’t Make a Fuss When You Return Home: When coming home, don’t make a big deal of your returning, even if tempted to do so. Instead, simply greet your dog with a pat on the head and proceed to settle back into your routine. If you’re calm when you return home, your dog will learn that your presence is just a routine part of their day as well.
  • Provide your Dog With Something to Do: Get your dog a food dispensing toy¹ or some type of interactive dog toy¹ to keep them busy while you’re away. This will engage your pooch in the mental and physical activities they need to stay content. Remember that a bored dog is more likely to sulk and worry if left alone, so find a toy your dog loves playing with that will challenge their mind while keeping them busy.
  • Get Another Pet: If you can take care of another dog or a pet like a cat, consider getting your Golden a companion. This way, your dog won’t be completely alone when you’re gone from home. Plus, they’ll have a new playmate!
golden retriever on bed
Image Credit: Prystai, Shutterstock

What to Do When Returning Home

When you leave your dog alone for a while and return home, take them out for a walk and a little quality time. A rousing game of fetch in the yard will work, too. Just do something your dog enjoys and make it a routine. This way, your Golden will have something to look forward to when you finally come home.

Tips for Keeping Your Dog Safe While You’re Away

Before you leave home, it’s important to know your dog will be safe while you’re away. Some of the things you should do before leaving home are close the windows and pick up any hazardous items or food that’s dangerous to dogs.

You should also cover or create barriers around your electrical wires so your dog can’t chew on them. Any cupboards that your dog can access should be closed completely and latched, and don’t forget to put your garbage receptacles up and out of reach so your pooch doesn’t get into the trash.

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Even though Golden Retrievers are social dogs that love spending time with their owners, it is okay to leave a Golden home alone. The length of time you can leave your Golden Retriever home alone depends on several factors like their age, physical health, and whether or not they suffer from behavioral problems such as separation anxiety. Generally speaking, consider 4–6 hours as the threshold for which you can safely leave your dog at home without worrying that they become overly anxious or have accidents.

Featured Image Credit: Cavan-Images, Shutterstock

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