Close this search box.

How Long Can Golden Retrievers Be Left Alone? (Pup to Senior)

Last Updated: December 29, 2023

Golden Retrievers, known for their friendly and tolerant attitude, are among the most popular dog breeds worldwide. As social animals, they thrive on companionship, but the reality of modern living often necessitates leaving them alone at times.

The question of how long a Golden Retriever can be left alone varies significantly depending on their age – from puppies to seniors – and their individual needs.

Golden Retriever puppies can be left alone for one hour for every month of age, up to a maximum of four hours at a time. As they grow, adult dogs can typically be left alone for 4 to 6 hours, provided they have adequate exercise. Senior dogs, however, might require more frequent attention due to health issues.

Factors such as training, health, environment, and the presence of other pets play crucial roles in determining the appropriate duration.

Understanding these nuances is essential for ensuring the happiness of your Golden Retriever throughout its life stages.

This blog will explore these aspects in detail, offering guidance on balancing your Golden Retriever’s needs with your own schedules.

A cute Golden Retriever puppy sitting on stairs.

Navigating Alone Time for Your Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers can be left alone, with the duration depending on their age and needs. Puppies can handle up to four hours, adults up to six hours with proper exercise and stimulation, while seniors may need more frequent attention.

Training and a safe environment are crucial to prevent anxiety and ensure their well-being during these times.

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 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

Puppies also need to pee frequently, as they can’t hold their bladder for 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.


Once your Golden Retriever puppy has reached adolescence, around 6-8 months, 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 looking at the owner.

Adult Dogs

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 4-6 hours if you want to be guilt-free and less anxious.


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, ensure 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 super cool 10-year guarantee!

Note: Clicking the above link(s) will take you to Amazon or an online store where we have an affiliate relationship. If you make a purchase, we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Senior Golden Retriever

Legal Guidelines for Leaving Dogs Alone

While no federal law explicitly states the exact duration dogs can be legally left alone, various state laws address animal neglect and cruelty. In North America, the general guideline is to avoid leaving dogs alone for more than four hours.

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
Golden Retriever sitting

Train Your Dog To Be Left 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 positive and negative human 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 Also Has Some Excellent Tips…

Fun Ways to Keep Your Golden Retriever Busy While Alone

There are several effective strategies to keep your Golden Retriever entertained while you’re away. Here are some options to consider:

  • Variety of Toys: Golden Retrievers can get bored easily, so it’s beneficial to leave a selection of four or five favorite toys. A highly recommended choice is the KONG Classic, which is available on Amazon. This bestseller is multifunctional, serving as a fetch toy, an interactive puzzle, and a treat dispenser, catering to your dog’s instinctual foraging behavior.
  • Soothing Music: Research indicates that music can significantly reduce stress in kennelled dogs. A particular study found that genres like soft rock and reggae were especially effective. Alternatively, leaving the TV on a dog-friendly channel can also engage and soothe your pet.
  • Consider a Second Dog: While it may seem drastic, another dog could provide companionship and reduce feelings of stress and loneliness in your Golden Retriever. However, this is a major commitment and should be carefully considered.

    It’s advisable to wait until your current dog is well-trained and past puppyhood. Experts often suggest choosing a dog of the opposite sex for the best compatibility.
  • Treat-Tossing Dog Camera: The Furbo is an innovative gadget that allows you to interact with your dog remotely. It not only enables you to see and communicate with your dog through two-way audio but also allows you to dispense treats via your smartphone. Plus, it’s Alexa-compatible, adding to its convenience.

These methods can significantly enhance your Golden Retriever’s experience, ensuring your furry friend remains happy and engaged.

Golden Retriever looking at the owner.

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, needing regular exercise and companionship, shouldn’t be left alone for long. Many new owners don’t realize this commitment, leading to unfortunate outcomes like abandonment.

Originating from pack-oriented gray wolves, dogs view humans as their pack and can feel lonely if left alone.

Let’s examine the effects of leaving your Golden Retriever alone too often by discussing two key points.

Alone Time and 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.

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.

Golden Retriever puppy staring sadly

Alone Time and Destructive Behavior

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.” – World of Dogz

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

Why Exercise Matters

Many dog behaviorists believe 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.

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 fully grown.

Adults should have at least two hours of activity per day. Senior dogs might only be able to manage 10-15 minutes.

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

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, 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 look 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!

Indoor vs. Outdoor Living: What’s Best for Your Dog?

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:

Sad Golden Retriever

Indoor Living: Pros & Cons

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.

Choosing the Perfect Indoor Space for Your Golden Retriever

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 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 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 many options to choose from to suit your furnishings. Check out the Carlson Extra Tall Gate, which is 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. 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 full 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.

Golden Retriever yawning while on the grass

Outdoor Living: Pros & Cons

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.
Your dog can eliminate any pent-up energy, especially if you buy a dog agility course or make one!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.

Finding Companionship for Your Dog During Your Absence

You can have a Golden Retriever and work full time, but you must make alternative arrangements to care for your dog.

Examples are hiring a dog sitter or dog walker, getting family and friends to visit, returning home on your lunch break, enrolling him in doggie daycare, or working from home.

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.

  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 to 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.


Can Golden Retrievers be left for 8 hours?

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.

Where should I leave food and water for my Golden Retriever when they are left alone?

Golden retrievers are known for their love of water, so consider placing the water bowl near a small indoor fountain or a dripping faucet to provide a soothing ambiance. As for the food, scatter it around the room in small portions to encourage mental stimulation and prevent boredom.

Let’s Wrap This Up!

While leaving your Golden Retriever alone is sometimes unavoidable, there are numerous creative and effective alternatives to ensure they remain happy and well-cared for in your absence.

From doggy daycare and pet sitters to interactive toys and technology, the options are plentiful.

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. Recently, Sharon has become deeply passionate about the plight of rescue dogs and is an active advocate for dog rescue, striving to make a difference in the lives of dogs in need.

Leave a Comment

Image for Newsletter Signup

Rehabilitate. Repeat.

Get the best in dog rescue news, care, and health tips, and be a part of the rescue dog revolution.