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how long can a gsd be left alone?

51651 Views 21 Replies 18 Participants Last post by  WateryTart
sorry to be brand new and asking questions im sure have been answered but i searched and couldnt find anything.

long story short, ive been wanting a GSD for the longest time and have been watching the "Urgent" section for anything that pops up in the southeast. ive seen one that i like but before i go out and get her i thought it better to ask and make sure im not putting the dog in a bad situation.

I work nights 6pm-6am and was wondering if that is too long to leave a dog alone even if its sleeping most of the time. the good thing is that its not every day but 2 days where itd be alone all night and the next 2 id be there all day and night.

sorry if this is in the wrong section.
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Although it is not ideal, an adult dog can go for 12 hours. Is there any way you could come home for a quick stop to let the dog out? Or hire someone to come let the dog out around 9pm or so?
assuming its a slow night I might be able to make it around to let it out but thats not a guarantee (im a law enforcement officer so getting free time to do that really depends on how busy the bad guys are). I might also be able to find someone on the other shift to help out but again, no guarentees, so im going with a worst case scenario here.
Also, it depends on the dog. Bear has no problem being left alone for long periods of time. We've never gone 12 hours though. However, in a LOT of ways I think Bear is more of an exception more than the rule when it comes to GSD's.
Let me just give you some examples:
1. He does not require a lot of exercise, nor doe she seem to care if he gets it. He enjoys it when it happens (Which is every day), but he doesn't get upset if it doesn't (Which has happened two or three times.) As long as he's with us, he's happy.
2. Bear does not stay in a crate. Ever. He is older and simply doesn't need to. We tested the water a few times for short periods befor eleaving him alone, and with the exception of a few isolated incidents (The first time ever he messed up the blinds pawing at the window, and he had an accident on the floor once during a horrible thunderstorm, which he's terrified of) he has not messed anything up. I think for the amount of time you're talking the dog will probably need a crate. At least at first.
3. Bear does not get "excited". I have two kids, 9 and 5, and they can be bouncing off the walls and he takes it all in stride. Doesn't get "revved up" unless we specifically play with him and get him excited.

I think if you look at the majority of GSD's, these are not characteristics you expect. Bear is older, but he's NOT a senior yet I guess (5.5) so its unusual. You have to really be prepared for the dog's temperment, especially from rescue, to not necessarily be what you thought. IN fact, I'm convinced that Bear didn't show us his "true" personality until he'd been with us a month. I think he wanted to make sure we were going to be around for awhile or why bother?

Not trying to discourage you. They are the BEST dogs in the world, but you need to be prepared.
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I don't have anything different to add regarding the "hours alone" issue, but wanted to encourage you to consider a rescue organization in addition to looking at dogs in shelters. Almost all rescues utilize foster homes and will have a better sense of the dog's schedule and personality. Just about all of us work too, so you'd know what the dog was used to in terms of time alone.

My current foster could handle the 12 hours, my last could have never made it that long. Both are adult dogs so they are both physically mature enough to "hold it" but Doc just had a shorter tolerance. Luckily, I was laid-off the entire 7 months we fostered him so it worked out!

DrDoom raises some good points about schedules above and beyond the dog's elimination needs. Our rescue takes owner surrenders and dogs from shelters and I agree, it takes a while for them to get past the shell-shock and show their real personality.
Where in the southeast are you located. Maybe one of the local rescues could help you find a mature GSD that is right for you and your lifestyle.

I would recommend that you try to find a friend, co-worker, or neighbor that can let your future dog out on the nights that you have to work 12 hour shifts. I will say that from time to time, I have left my dog for 12 hours due to my work schedule, but it is not something I would recommend to make a habit of. One of my dogs got a bladder infection, because she would not go to the bathroom in the house and I was working long hours during tax season at the time.
Would you be able to have a secure kennel for the dog? 12 hours left in the house or a crate is do-able for many adult dogs, but is really pushing the envelope and certainly not ideal. Especially not on a regular basis.

A kennel would solve the problem as that way the dog isn't forced to "hold it" and can have access to food and water and go potty as needed when you're gone.
i see that you'd only be doing this schedule 2 nights on and 2 off? If you have a friend or close neighbor that you trust enough, ask them to help you out on those days that you're working a 12 hour shift. and like you said, if the bad guys arent out and about, you may be able to stop in and let the dog out. It really depends on the dog that you get like some of the others have said. A puppy defintaley couldnt go that long, but an older (and by older i mean somewhere around 3-7ish) should be able to hold it for that long, although its not good to do all the time. My 2 GSD's, like Dr.Doom's dogs, could go 12 hours just being couch potatoes sleeping the day away. But they also get plenty of excersise throughout the week. we go on a 2mile walk every morning before work.
Originally Posted By: jazy's momWhere in the southeast are you located. Maybe one of the local rescues could help you find a mature GSD that is right for you and your lifestyle.

I would recommend that you try to find a friend, co-worker, or neighbor that can let your future dog out on the nights that you have to work 12 hour shifts. I will say that from time to time, I have left my dog for 12 hours due to my work schedule, but it is not something I would recommend to make a habit of. One of my dogs got a bladder infection, because she would not go to the bathroom in the house and I was working long hours during tax season at the time.
im in FL and i know of the one close to where i live in wildwood.
Considering not only time at work but commute time, that is a long time for the dog to 'hold it'. If you can get someone to let it relieve itself at some point, you can leave your dog alone for 12 or so hrs. but you will both be much happier if you exercise and mentally stimulate the dog prior to leaving it alone and when you return.
I am sure all dogs are different, but My GSD Timber can easily hold it for 12-14 hours at night. Timber is not caged, but I go to bed fairly early and used to get up at 6 AM to let Timber out.

I eventually discovered that I could get up, make coffee, shave and shower yet Timber was fine and has not had an accident in the house for well over a year.

When it comes to potty habits, I guess all dogs are different.
Most dogs can hold it for a long time. The problem is that it is not good for them to hold it too long. As with humans, sometimes it leads to bladder problems.
With mine it depends on when/what they eat and if they are crated. They will NOT go in their crates, mainly b/c they are sleeping. If I leave them out, they play with each other and then have to poop after that activity. I feed my dogs at 5:30 pm and they poop in the morning, so they can be home during the day and not have to go. The longest I leave them is 8 hours and it doesn't happen that often. However sometimes on the weekend we sleep in and they go for 12 hours. If they do have to go then they will wake us up, since they sleep in our room uncrated.
Believe it or not, they can be left alone quite a long time. However, if they are left inside, they may become bored and given plenty of space, they may not see the need of waiting until you get home. If they get bored, they are likely to engage in juvenile delinquent behavior even if they are no longer juveniles. They may whine and bark, but more likely they will chew on things. They can easily get into things that can do them damage. Not all dogs have this problem, but it is possible.

12 hours is way too long for a puppy to wait for you to come home and let it out.

An outdoor kennel solves the elimination thing, with a dog house for shelter and a bucket for water, they can manage, even if you are for some reason kept over. They can go 24 hours in a pinch. But you certainly wouldn't want that to be a habit. For emergencies though, you need not be afraid for your pet.

I am usually gone 12 hours my daily commute is three hours. Since I work near where my sisters live, I could conceivably spend the night over there if the roads were too bad to safely get home, and I will know that my pups will be happy to see me when I get back, but they will be safe and comfortable.

With outdoor kennels, spending the night in the hospital was not an issue either. My Dad went over to feed them, but no one had to worry about my dogs being cramped up in crates or stuck in the house.

I would not want to leave a young puppy outside alone for 12 hours. When I have a pup, they can go in and out, giving them an inside area of about 4' by 4', and a doggy door to an outdoor run. In my case the pups were together in a pack of two and three, and not alone all that time.
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How about this option I don't know if you have it in your area but if you have a doggy daycare like we do, maybe they have other options available like ours. You can take your dog for doggy daycare during the day, or have someone come in to walk your dog during the morning, day or evening or you can have him in night boarding where the dog is taken home with one of the employees to sleep in there house and then bought back to daycare to play with all the other dogs during the day.

My pup started daycare at 4 months at one day a week and now is almost 7 months goes to daycare 2 days a week.

By the way my husband is a police officer too but his schedule is very different than yours. When he gets out of homicide he will be back to 7 days 10 hours, 7 evenings 10 hours, 7 nights 8 hours. I can't wait that way Jesse will only be left alone 2 days in a 5 week period and I can send him to daycare those days.
I have a pet sitter come by when I am at work. She stays for an hour or so to let them out, sometimes walk them, or brush them. I just did a search online for pet sitters in my area and there were 3 of them, and I live in a fairly small town. I am at work 8 hours a day and I am sure they would be fine being alone for that time. But I like the idea of having someone come by to check on them and give them a bit of company. It helps break up the day for them so they are not so lonely.
I think it might be asking for problems with neighbors if a dog were left outside all night, without human supervision to step in and stop excessive barking.
We had a gentleman and his disabled wife move into our neighborhood a couple of years ago. The husband traveled a lot for business and was often gone for three and four days at a time. The wife was in a wheelchair. He adopted a dog to keep her company while he was gone (a Lab/Border Collie mix). They put in a dog door so the dog could get in and out on her own.
The dog did nothing but bark while the owner was gone. All day and all night.The wife couldn't get out and make the dog come in at 3 a.m., and the dog totally ignored her calling it in.
The husband wasn't there, and when approached by neighbors would kind of shrug and say he just didn't know what to do. Animal control was called and they helped convince him that a bark collar was the way to go. Before that he was opposed to it as being cruel.
Anyway, it might not be a good idea to leave a dog out in the yard, unsupervised, at night. At least, it isn't a good idea if you have neighbors near enough to be bothered by barking.
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My dogs bark when I come home, but with privacy fences along the sides, they leave the neighbors alone, and are not a nuisance when I am gone.

Personally, I think outside is the best way to go, but I agree that you have to try and manage the possibility of barking if you have neighbors close by. Many animal shelters are finding that barking is reduced considerably when dogs are housed together.

Mine are kenneled singly, but their kennels share sides with one or two dogs. I think that this limits the feeling of being all alone that some dogs do not manage all that well. However, if you have a pair that HATE each other this could be disasterous. With my lot, I house compatable dogs next to eachother and put incompatible dogs far apart with a blind (tarp) between them, this prevents fence fighting and frustration.

Having dogs has its own set of complications, but I find it easier by far than having a dog. For one thing, I never have to miss a dog class because my dog is sick or in heat. The big thing is that they are more comfortable with the companionship of the others, even in separate kennels. I can see a dog alone setting up a mighty ruckus in a yard.
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you work long hours. what are you doing with all of that money? i don't like leaving my dogs longer than 4 hours without having their sitter coming in and letting them out. she also feeds them when necessary. they can go loger than 4 hours but i like them to be comfortable. i have definitely left them longer than 4 hours without having their sitter come in but i don't make a habit of it. good luck with your new dog. think about crating her.
The GSDs we have had have always been able to hold it. We had one mix that wouldn't go anywhere but home. After a couple of overnight trips with her we had to quit taking her along for worrying about her bladder.
Since you are getting a rescue dog I would worry more about the separation anxiety the dog will have more than I would the bladder control. You will probably have to crate the dog while you are gone in that case so make sure it has enough room to move a bit so it doesn't get too stiff.
The dog I have now regularly holds 12 hours and I can't do anything about it. The last time she is out at night to when she gets up in the morning (on my days off) is about 12 hours and she doesn't go immediately when we first go out. I don't know if it takes her a while to relax, or what, but she takes her time thats for sure.
I work 12 hour shifts with a 1hr commute each way so 14 hrs total and have had a few times where the rest of the family was on vacation so we had to make the dogs wait the 14 hrs. I didn't like it but the GSDs were always able to hold. In fact we only had one that had trouble, a boxer/rottweiler mix. We had good luck probably because I was working nights back then so they all slept most of the time I was gone.
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