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How Long Can German Shepherds Be Left Alone? Time Limits & Considerations

Hallie Roddy

By Hallie Roddy

german shepherd lying near food bowl

As much as we love spending personal time with our fur babies, there’s not much you can do about leaving for work and having your German Shepherd stay behind. Unfortunately, many people are gone for way too long, and their energetic dog breeds start getting into trouble from lack of mental stimulation. So, how long can German Shepherds be left by themselves?

We don’t recommend leaving your German Shepherds alone for more than 4 hours if possible. For puppies, this time period gets even smaller. Read through this quick article to find out how this time differs with age, why you can’t leave them alone for long, and what happens when you do.

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How Long Can German Shepherds Be Left Alone?

If you absolutely must leave your German Shepherds by themselves for several hours per day, then it’s probably better that you find someone who can dog sit or check in on them. The younger the dog, the less time you should leave them alone. Senior dogs also shouldn’t be left alone for long periods since they have a higher chance of getting sick and use the bathroom more often.

German Shepherd Puppies

german shepherd puppy sitting on the ground
Photo Credit: Nina Alanen, Pixabay

Puppies are highly active and curious. They sleep a lot throughout the day, but their time awake is spent playing and exploring the house. Plus, they aren’t so good at holding their bladders for long periods of time. Because they aren’t housetrained, they might even get bored and start nibbling on furniture or other expensive items in the house if you’re not around. It’s only after about 5 months of age that they can be on their own for multiple hours without many accidents.

Adolescent German Shepherds

Adolescent dogs are anywhere between 6 and 18 months old. Their bladders are more developed, and they are a little more mature. Currently, it is usually okay to leave them on their own for a few hours. Still, you should limit that time because they are still full of energy.

Adult German Shepherds

german shepherd dog
Photo Credit: Rob Wee, Pixabay

Adult dogs are a little more self-reliant than younger dogs. However, German Shepherds are social animals, and they love the company of their families. Despite being able to hold their bladder at this age, they are more likely to act out and howl, trying to get you to come home. This disturbs neighbors, and their lack of entertainment could cause some destruction around the house.

Senior German Shepherds

Senior dogs are usually older than 8 years old and need to be checked on, like adolescent dogs. German Shepherds are highly prone to hip and elbow dysplasia which is painful and could get them in dangerous situations. Older dogs also have sensitive stomachs and digestive issues. They’ll have to be let out to go to the bathroom more often. Try not to leave them alone for more than 2 or 3 hours.

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Solutions for if You Have to Leave a Dog Alone

Many times, there isn’t anything we can do about having to leave the house for an extended period. There are some solutions that you should seriously consider if you want to keep accidents to a minimum.

Hire a Sitter

smiling woman hugging her german shepherd dog
Image Credit: Sam Wordley, Shutterstock

Dog sitters or dog walkers are excellent solutions that many owners turn to when they spend their days at work. These services aren’t too expensive, and it allows the dog to get some attention and exercise while you’re away. They won’t feel as lonely, and it keeps them from long hours in solitude.

Stop in on Your Lunch Break

This isn’t possible for every dog owner but those who live close to home should stop in during their lunch break when they can. This breaks up the monotony of the day for dogs and ensures that you maintain a close bond with them. Even ten minutes of fetch can keep them feeling entertained.

Work at Home

Again, this isn’t possible for everyone but if you are able to work from home, try to do it as much as you can. German Shepherds are especially loyal and all they want is to spend as much time by your side as possible.

Walk them Before and After Work

If you absolutely can’t visit them during the day, then do your best to let out some of their energy both before and after you go to work. This wears them out for a couple of hours while you’re gone. By the time you get back, they’re ready to go on another walk and spend some time with you.

young woman playing with her german shepherd pet
Image Credit: Yama Zsuzsanna Márkus, Pixabay

Get a Dog Camera

The technology we have today is amazing and pet owners are now turning to doggie cams. These cameras are set up around the house. You can now watch them, talk to them through a speaker, and even feed them treats while you’re out of the house.

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How to Leave a Dog at Home

Dogs do well with a consistent schedule and throwing it out of balance could give them expectations that only let them down in the future. If you must leave your German Shepherds at home alone, start by ensuring there is nothing dangerous for them to get into. Set out a lot of toys for physical and mental stimulation. If they are prone to anxiety, play some calming music while you’re away. Some dogs may have to be put in a crate or confined to an area with dog gates. If you’re really worried about their loneliness, getting another dog might even help. Dogs are pack animals, and they often benefit from having a playmate.

Pay attention to German Shepherd ear positions. These dogs have a way of communicating with us through their body language. If you come home and they have their ears pinned back and are avoiding eye contact, they might be scared that they’re going to upset you. Similarly, German Shepherd tail positions can tell you a lot as well. It’s worth it to come home to a high tail that’s wagging away when you walk through the door. Now, what happens when they’re alone for too long?

German shepherd lying on sofa
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

Issues with Leaving a German Shepherd Alone for Long Hours

Many dog owners don’t understand how much of a commitment a dog is. This is why so many innocent dogs are abandoned or re-homed. German Shepherds are extremely social dogs and they need as much interaction as they can get. Without it, there are some serious problems that could arise.

Separation Anxiety

Dogs are capable of both separation anxiety and depression. This is a significant concern for breeds like German Shepherds. Symptoms of anxiety are shortness of breath, drooling, pacing, howling, barking, whining, and increased heart rate.

scared german shepherd
Image By: Brett_Hondow, Pixabay

Destructive Behavior

Behavioral issues are more common in dogs that aren’t stimulated. This could mean that they chew on your furniture, eat your shoes, or tear through your carpet. Some dogs get so bored that they have even been known to chew through drywall to try and escape. Eliminating their boredom is the key to good behavior while you’re away.


After being forced to lay around all day, a lot of German Shepherds get extremely restless at night and keep their owners up. This ruins their sleep cycle and gives them random bursts of energy that also ruins yours in the process.

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Final Thoughts

If you spend 8 hours a day at work without the ability to come home or have someone spend time with your dogs, then you might be better off not having a dog. It’s hard to hear, but German Shepherds are an energetic and social breed that don’t do well when they’re alone for long periods. Before bringing any breed home, do your research and make sure that you live a life that suits both of you and is going to give them an interactive and stable environment that keeps them both physically and mentally healthy.

Featured Image Credit: Snezhana_G, Shutterstock

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