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How Long Can Golden Retrievers be Left Alone? How Long is OK?

Golden Retrievers can become very attached to their family as they are very affectionate, even-tempered, friendly, and gentle. However, you can still leave your dog home 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 maximum, depending on their socialization, training, background, previous experience, health, and age. Puppies should not be left home alone for longer than one hour for each month of age, which should never exceed the maximum of 4 hours.

In this definitive guide, you’ll learn:

  • How long Golden Retrievers can be left alone by age
  • How to leave your Golden Retriever alone and keep him entertained
  • Legalities of leaving your dog by himself
  • Consequences of leaving your dog alone for too long
  • Where to leave your dog – pros and cons of inside and outside
  • Alternative solutions
A cute Golden Retriever puppy. How Long Can a Golden Retriever be Left Alone?

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

Is it OK to Leave a Golden Retriever Alone?

Before we investigate how long you can safely leave your dog home alone, we presume that Golden Retrievers can be left alone. But is it OK?

It is OK to leave a Golden Retriever alone as long as he’s cared for and not neglected. Leaving a young puppy for too long is cruel and hazardous as he’ll need pee breaks, exercise, stimulation, food, and water. An adult Golden Retriever can also be left alone, but he definitely cannot be abandoned for 8 hours!

Golden Retriever puppies are naturally inquisitive and can get into all sorts of devilment if just left. 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.

Young Puppies

Puppies are curious and need constant supervising. 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 they can be left home alone during their first six months.

Age of 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 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 one hour for 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.

By the way, if you are thinking about buying a product or toy for your dog, check out my favorite gear below. Also, check out the 10-year warranty on the crate pad!

RetailerMy Favorite ProductLink to Store
Walk Your Dog With Love Logo The Original
No-Pull Harness
Go to Walk Your Dog
With Love
Amazon LogoMidwest iCrate
(all-inclusive crate)
Go to Amazon
Big Barker LogoOrthopedic Crate Pad
(10-year warranty)
Go to Big Barker
Amazon LogoKONG Puppy Toy
(natural teething rubber)
Go to Amazon

Adolescent Dogs

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 a very sociable breed that needs communication and stimulation.


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 to feel guilt-free and less anxious, don’t leave your doggo for longer than the recommended time.


Older Golden Retrievers above 8 or 9 years old 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 all too quickly.

Senior dogs with diagnosed health conditions also shouldn’t be left for too long. Goldens with joint issues such as hip dysplasia can suffer from pain and discomfort and may need additional care.


No matter your dog’s age, make sure he has an orthopedic bed to sleep on, such as the Big Barker. I like this one as it’s explicitly designed for big dogs and is clinically proven to reduce joint pain and stiffness, helping to prevent arthritis and other mobility issues.

How Long Can You Legally Leave a Dog Alone?

There is no federal law that 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.

There is the Animal Welfare Act, a federal law that regulates animal treatment. However, this applies only to dogs that are 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 all 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.”

Code of Practice for the Welfare of Dogs

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 How to Leave 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 that you can 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 the 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 tune 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 precisely what your Golden needs to feel less stressed and lonely. However, adopting a second dog is a huge commitment that you will need to think through. If you decide to go for it, make sure your Golden Retriever is out of puppyhood and fully trained. 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 cool little gadget is not only smart but also 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.

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.

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

Do Golden Retrievers Get Separation Anxiety?

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

Dogs that are prone to separation anxiety will show signs of stress and/or display destructive behavior when detached for too long from their owner. Symptoms may include uncontrollable barking, howling, or 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 properly caring for your Golden Retriever, 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, inside or outside, let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of both:

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 is unable to dig up your garden or try to run away if he’s an escape artist!Your puppy needs to be toilet trained.

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 to do!You need a large space for your dog to be comfortable. A small yard is insufficient.
An occasional bark from your backyard is an excellent thing to ward off strangers.Your dog may chew on tree roots or destroy flowers. Make sure 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.

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. If you don’t like the idea of using a crate, they’re a great alternative. Plus, there are a ton to choose from to suit your furnishings. Check out the Carlson Extra Tall Gate from Amazon, which is just right 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 both 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 having to use 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 You Have a Golden Retriever and Work Full Time?

I often get asked by potential new dog owners whether they can leave a dog for 8 hours and work full time. I suppose if you’ve never owned a dog, you may not know. Here’s the deal.

You can have a Golden Retriever and work full time, but you will need to make some 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 Golden Retriever all alone while you go out to work, there are quite a few solutions. 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 six 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 to take your dog out for a long walk.
  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 exactly 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.

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