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How Long Can Golden Retrievers Be Left Alone? (And Is It OK?)

Golden Retrievers can become very attached to their family as they are affectionate, friendly, and gentle. However, you can still leave your Golden Retriever alone without fretting about him, as long as you don’t abandon him for too long and do it correctly. So, how long can Golden Retrievers be left alone?

Golden Retrievers can be left alone for up to 4 hours, depending on training, socialization, and health, but puppies should only be alone for 1 hour per month of age. When leaving your Golden Retriever alone, ensure they have been well exercised and have access to water, food, and a cozy bed.

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • How long you can leave a Golden Retriever alone by age.
  • How to leave your Golden Retriever alone.
  • Consequences of leaving your Golden alone for too long.
  • Alternative solutions to leaving your Golden Retriever alone.
A cute Golden Retriever puppy. How Long Can a Golden Retriever be Left Alone?

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Welcome to my guilt-free guide to leaving your Golden Retriever alone. Let’s dive in!

Can Golden Retrievers Be Left Alone?

Golden Retrievers can be left alone as long as they are cared for and not neglected. Adult Golden Retrievers can be left alone for up to 4 hours; they definitely should not be left for 8 hours. Leaving a young puppy for too long is also cruel as they need pee breaks, stimulation, food, and water.

Golden Retriever puppies are naturally curious and can get into devilment when alone. On the other hand, it’s not as bad with older, socialized, and well-trained dogs.

Let’s review how long you can leave a Golden Retriever alone by age.

Golden Retriever Puppies

Golden Retriever puppies are inquisitive and need constant supervision. Although they can sleep for up to 18 hours every day, they’re full of boundless energy and endless hunger when they are awake.

You shouldn’t leave puppies on their own for too long. This table indicates how long Golden Retriever pups can be left home alone during their first six months.

Age of Golden Retriever PuppyTime Left Alone
8 – 10 weeksMaximum 1 hour
2 – 3 monthsMaximum 2 hours
3 – 4 monthsMaximum 3 hours
4 – 6 monthsMaximum 4 hours
How long Golden Retriever puppies can be left alone by age
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How Long Can Golden Retriever Puppies Hold Their Bladder?

Golden Retriever puppies also need to pee frequently, as they can’t hold their bladder for very long.

Golden Retrievers can typically hold their bladder for one hour every month of age. So, if you bring your puppy home at 2 months old, he can control it for about two hours, although he should be allowed to potty every hour at this young age. He should have full bladder control at six months old.

Adolescent Golden Retrievers

Once your Golden Retriever puppy has reached adolescence, around 6-8 months of age, and his bladder has developed, you can leave him longer but ensure a gradual build-up.

However, the limit should never exceed four hours. Goldens do not tolerate being alone for long periods because they are sociable and need communication and stimulation.

Golden Retriever. Can Golden Retrievers Be Left Alone?

Adult Golden Retrievers

Golden Retrievers reach adulthood between 18-24 months. They are very independent when they need to be, but they also enjoy the company of others. They love having a job to do and want to be part of the family.

Some dogs may be more tolerant, but don’t leave your doggo for longer than recommended if you want to be guilt-free and less anxious.

Senior Golden Retrievers

Older Golden Retrievers above 8 or 9 shouldn’t be left home alone for too long as they may need more potty breaks. If they suddenly become sick, they need someone to be around, as severe problems can develop quickly.

Also, don’t leave senior dogs with diagnosed health conditions alone for too long. Goldens with joint issues such as hip dysplasia can suffer from pain and discomfort and may need additional care.

PRO TIP! No matter your dog’s age, make sure he has an orthopedic bed to sleep on, such as the Big Barker. I use the Big Barker as it’s designed for big dogs and is clinically proven to reduce joint pain and stiffness, helping to prevent arthritis and other mobility issues – and it has a 10-year guarantee!

How Long Can You Legally Leave a Golden Retriever Alone?

No federal law specifies precisely how long dogs can legally be left alone. However, there are various state laws regarding neglect and cruelty to animals. The general rule in North America is not to keep dogs alone for more than four hours at a time.

The Animal Welfare Act is a federal law that regulates animal treatment. However, this applies only to dogs bred for commercial sale and dogs imported or carried.

Similar guidelines exist in the UK, whereby veterinary experts also recommend four hours as the maximum period for all dogs to be left alone. The UK’s Animal Welfare Act Code of Practice for the Welfare of Dogs guidance document determines how animals should be treated and cared for.

“Some dogs become distressed and suffer if they are left on their own, even for short periods. Experts recommend four hours as the maximum time period.”

Welfare of Dogs
How long can you legally leave a Golden Retriever alone? Golden Retriever.

10 Tips on How to Leave a Golden Retriever Alone

When leaving your Golden Retriever alone, remain calm and confident, and don’t let him see that you are sad to leave him.

But why?

Scientists found that dogs can recognize emotions in humans. In this study, investigators demonstrated that dogs differentiate between human positive and negative emotions.

Stay relaxed and composed, and once you have puppy-proofed the area where you plan to leave your dog, follow my top tips:

  1. Exercise your dog first to get him tired.
  2. Cognitive stimulation is also vital, so play games.
  3. Allow him to take a potty break.
  4. Make sure he’s been fed and won’t be hungry.
  5. Have fresh water available at all times.
  6. Leave lots of puzzle toys and chew toys.
  7. Use a crate, a playpen, or erect dog gates to keep him safe.
  8. Play calming music or leave the TV on if he is stressed or anxious.
  9. Start slowly, a few minutes here and there, and gradually increase.
  10. Keep departures and arrivals low-key.

This Fun Video Has Some Excellent Tips on Leaving Your Puppy Home Alone…

How to Leave Your Puppy Home Alone | Chewy

How to Keep Your Golden Retriever Entertained When Alone

There are several ways to keep your Golden Retriever entertained while you’re away. Consider the below possibilities:

  • Leave a range of toys. If your Golden Retriever gets bored quickly or is easily distracted, one or two toys might not be sufficient. Always leave four or five of his favorite toys readily available. My favorite is the KONG Classic from Amazon. This bestseller will keep your dog entertained for hours. It’s multi-functional and acts as a fetch toy, interactive toy, and is superb for stuffing treats, satisfying your dog’s natural desire to forage.
  • Play soothing music. Playing music has proven to reduce stress levels in kennelled dogs. This study even found that the type of music can make a difference, in this case, soft rock and reggae! You can also experiment with leaving the TV on and tuning into a dog station. Many intend to keep the interest of your pup.
  • Get another dog! Okay, this might seem a little extreme, but a pal might be what your Golden needs to feel less stressed and lonely. However, adopting a second dog is a huge commitment that you must think through. If you decide to go for it, ensure your Golden Retriever is fully trained and out of puppyhood. Experts also recommend getting a dog of the opposite sex as they always do best together.
  • Invest in a treat-tossing dog camera. You have to love the Furbo from Amazon. This nifty little gadget is innovative and looks good in your home! Besides having the ability to see your dog while you are away, you can speak to him and hear him barking via the two-way audio and barking alert. You can toss him treats all controlled from your smartphone, and it’s even compatible with Alexa.
Golden Retriever. How To Leave a Golden Retriever Alone.

Oh, and if you’re thinking of buying something for your dog, make sure to check out my favorite dog gear picks below. Psst! Don’t miss the cool 10-year warranty on the Big Barker dog bed!

RetailerMy Favorite ProductLink to Store
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No-Pull Harness
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With Love
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(all-inclusive crate)
Buy on Amazon
Big Barker Logo Orthopedic Dog Bed
(10-year warranty)
Go to Big Barker
Amazon Logo Outward Hound Interactive
Puzzle Treat Toy
Buy on Amazon
Something Healthy for Every Belly!
(Fresh-cooked. Delivered)
Get 50% Off First Box

Do Golden Retrievers Get Lonely?

Golden Retrievers do get lonely. They are very affectionate and social dogs and have inherited a working drive that includes a desire to be with and please their owner. When left alone for long periods and deprived of companions, they can suffer from separation anxiety and engage in destructive behavior.

Golden Retrievers shouldn’t be left alone for too long as they can suffer physical and emotional harm. Regular stimulation and exercise are necessities for this energetic and pleasant breed.

Unfortunately, many novice dog owners don’t realize the level of commitment required to care for a dog. It’s one of the sad reasons why they get abandoned, re-homed, or worse case, euthanized.

It is worth remembering that domesticated dogs come from gray wolves. Wolves are pack animals that live together to survive. Dogs see us as part of the pack. They experience many emotions and, if deprived of company, they feel lonely. If you want to learn more about dog behaviors, head over to this article, 21 Golden Retriever Behaviors: And What They Mean!

Let’s explore the consequences of regularly leaving your Golden Retriever alone for too long by looking at two critical questions below.

Do Golden Retrievers Get Separation Anxiety?

Golden Retrievers get separation anxiety. They are prone to this disorder as they become incredibly attached to their family due to their gentle and friendly temperament. They desire to form an intense bond with their owner, and when the “bond” is temporarily broken, they cannot cope.

Dogs prone to separation anxiety will show signs of stress and display destructive behavior when detached for too long from their owner. Symptoms may include uncontrollable barking, howling, whining, pacing, circling, chewing, digging, peeing or pooping, or trying to escape.

Golden Retriever puppy. Do Golden Retrievers Get Separation Anxiety?

Check out this interesting recent study by Lincoln University in the United Kingdom. It turns out that separation anxiety in dogs should be seen as a symptom of underlying frustrations, not as a diagnosis.

Can Golden Retrievers Be Destructive?

Many dog breeds will chew on your shoes and possessions, destroy your wooden table legs with their teeth, or rip your couch to pieces! But can Golden Retrievers be destructive?

Golden Retrievers can be destructive, especially if they have separation anxiety or an outlet to expend excess energy due to insufficient exercise or boredom. Other causes are attention-seeking, fear, injury, puppy teething, or illness. The dog is just trying to deal with being unstimulated or relieve frustration.

Many adverse outcomes result from not caring for your Golden Retriever properly, keeping him happy and entertained. Long-term neglect, including leaving your dog alone all day, can also lead to the following other health problems:

  • Blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Stomach problems
  • Bladder infections
  • Depression

Never punish your Golden Retriever for showing distressing signs of separation anxiety or destructive behavior due to frustration.

Read more: How to Discipline a Golden Retriever: And What Not to Do!

How Much Exercise Do Golden Retrievers Need?

Many dog behaviorists believe that you can eliminate up to 90% of behavior problems if you exercise your dog adequately. Remember that Golden Retrievers were bred to retrieve ducks and other game birds for hunters due to their strength, stamina, and high work ethic. So how much exercise do Golden Retrievers need?

The exercise requirements of a Golden Retriever depend on their age and general health. Puppies need five minutes of exercise per month of age, twice a day until they are fully grown. Adults should have at least two hours of activity per day. Senior dogs might only be able to manage 10-15 minutes.

Large breed puppies should not be over-exercised as this can cause joint and bone problems while growing, but don’t worry, as you will soon get to know your dog and recognize when he’s had enough.

Some days your Golden Retriever might want more exercise, some days less, a bit like humans! If your dog doesn’t get excited when you pick up his lead, he is tired and wants to rest or isn’t well. Listen to what he’s trying to tell you!

My dog will put the brakes on, sit down, and looks up at me if she gets tired during a walk. It’s her way of saying she’s had enough and wants to go home!

Exercise should include many fun activities, not just leash walking. Retrievers love off-leash running, fetch, tug o’ war, frisbee, swimming, and agility.

Are Golden Retrievers Inside or Outside Dogs?

If you have the option of leaving your Golden Retriever outside when you depart, it can provide him with an abundance of space to run around and feel calm. However, are they okay to be left out, or are they inside dogs?

Golden Retrievers prefer to be inside dogs as they are highly social, people-loving, and prefer interaction. However, they can be outside dogs in certain climates due to their double coat, but only if you train them to stay outside from a young age and provide adequate shelter, such as a doghouse.

If you’re unsure where to leave your Golden, let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of inside and outside:

Pros & Cons of Leaving Your Golden Retriever Inside

Pros of InsideCons of Inside
Less likely to bark at outside distractions such as other dogs, animals, and people.
May engage in destructive chewing of your possessions if suffering from separation anxiety.
Prevents your dog from being injured if you live alongside wild animals who might attack.Risk of neighbor complaints due to excessive barking from separation anxiety, especially if you live in an apartment.
Your dog can’t dig up your garden or try to run away if he’s an escape artist!Your puppy needs to be toilet trained.
Pros and cons of leaving a Golden Retriever inside
Golden Retriever. Can Golden Retrievers be Left For 8 Hours?

Pros & Cons of Leaving Your Golden Retriever Outside

Pros of OutsideCons of Outside
Goldens shed profusely. If they spend more time outside, you will have less cleaning up!You need a large space for your dog to be comfortable. A small yard is insufficient.
An occasional bark from your backyard is excellent to ward off strangers.Your dog may chew on tree roots or destroy flowers. Ensure there’s nothing toxic he can eat, such as rotting apples or wild mushrooms. 
Your dog can get rid of any pent-up energy, especially if you buy a dog agility course or make one!Your dog may be unhappy and feel less part of the family. There’s also a greater risk of fleas or ticks.
Pros and cons of leaving a Golden Retriever outside

Where to Leave Your Golden Retriever in the Home

If you prefer to leave your Golden Retriever inside when you go out, you can still manage his environment and keep him safe by containing him in a specific part of the house.

Here are a few suggestions to contain your dog inside:

  1. Use a dog crate. Golden Retrievers should have a dog crate that’s no smaller than 42 inches. It should be big enough for your dog to turn around comfortably and stretch out. I like the Midwest Homes for Pets Icrate from Amazon, as it’s all-inclusive with a handy divider, perfect from puppy to adulthood, and has a removable wipe-clean pan. Don’t forget to get an orthopedic crate pad to protect his joints. My dog loved her crate and often went to her den to chill out or chew her KONG toys.
  2. Use dog gates. You can use dog gates or baby gates to segregate an area of your home. These allow you to section off no-go areas leaving you to decide how much freedom your puppy can have to wander around. They’re a great alternative if you don’t like using a crate. Plus, there are a ton to choose from to suit your furnishings. Check out the Carlson Extra Tall Gate from Amazon, which is just perfect for Retrievers.
  3. Use a playpen. Puppy playpens are perfect for containing your young Retriever, and he’ll have a large secure area to play safely. Some playpens can even be adjoined to a crate to make a great combination of a comfy resting place and room to roam. Some are constructed from heavy-duty metal and can be used outside, such as the BestPet Dog Pen from Amazon. I like this playpen as you can configure it into multiple shapes without using tools. It’s also lightweight, collapsable, and easy to move and take on camping trips.

The time will eventually come when you want to allow your Golden Retriever to have the run of the house. Most owners ultimately try this route. Don’t fret, though, as you’ll know when your dog is ready! My dog was over two years old before she was allowed free reign of the house.

Can Golden Retrievers be Left For 8 Hours?

Potential new dog owners often ask me whether they can leave a Golden Retriever for 8 hours and work full time. I guess if you’ve never owned a dog, you may not know.

So, here’s the deal.

Golden Retrievers can not be left for 8 hours. They are highly sociable dogs and will suffer from separation anxiety. They also need ongoing care and attention, such as physical exercise, mental stimulation, toilet breaks, and food and water.

You can have a Golden Retriever and work full time, but you must make alternative arrangements to care for your dog. Examples are to hire a dog sitter or dog walker, get family and friends to visit, return home on your lunch break, enroll him in doggie daycare, or work from home.

If you’re worried about leaving your best friend all alone while you go out to work, several solutions are available. I’d recommend mixing and matching these where possible so that every day is different and will be easier on your purse strings! Ensure you train your dog to be left alone from a young age.

Let’s expand on my guilt-free alternative solutions for leaving your Golden Retriever alone:

  1. Hire a dog sitter or dog walker. Dog sitters aren’t too expensive, and they can visit for a few hours rather than the entire working day. They’ll help give your Golden some desperately-needed company and playtime. You could also hire a reliable dog walker.
  2. Arrange for friends and family to visit. Get family or friends to call throughout the day. Even short 15-30 minute periods will be sufficient to keep your dog happy and amused. It would be super if they could take him on a walk, but a quick game of frisbee or fetch will surely do the trick to burn off some energy and prevent loneliness.
  3. Visit your dog on your lunch break. If you’re fortunate enough to work close by, visit your Golden Retriever on your lunch break and play a game of fetch to provide some fun exercise for him. Flexible working is also a superb solution, and you can schedule when you need help.
  4. Enroll your dog at a doggie daycare center. You can usually find them in most neighborhoods. With tons of other dogs to play with, your Golden Retriever will have great fun while you’re busy at work. Make sure you introduce him to daycare while a puppy so he’ll quickly get used to it.
  5. Work from home. With thousands of jobs moving to mobile workstations, working from home part of the week is a good idea. This way, you can play with your pup all day during your breaks. It also saves you from having to pay for a dog sitter.

Let’s Wrap This Up

Golden Retrievers are incredible dogs to own. Anyone lucky enough to experience their friendliness, playfulness, and devotion knows that they’re exceptionally gratifying.

Here are a few takeaways from the article:

  • Golden Retrievers can be left alone for a maximum of four hours.
  • Don’t leave puppies on their own for more than one hour per month of age.
  • Make sure your Golden Retriever is adequately exercised and stimulated before leaving him.
  • Be aware of separation anxiety and other health issues if you persistently leave your dog for too long. 
  • Consider hiring a dog sitter or dog-walker. Other solutions are doggy daycare, working from home, and enlisting the help of family and friends.

I hope this article has given you an honest insight into how long your Golden Retriever can be left alone. If you apply the suggestions and alternatives, you’ll no longer feel guilty and sad when you leave your doggo, and he won’t be afraid or anxious when you leave.


  • Sharon Waddington

    Sharon Waddington is the founder of World of Dogz. With over 30 years of experience working with dogs, this former Police Officer has seen it all. But it’s her trusty German Shepherd, Willow, who steals the show as the inspiration behind this website. As Sharon’s constant companion Willow has played a pivotal role in shaping her passion for dogs. Find her on Linkedin!