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12 Ways To Keep Your German Shepherd Busy While At Work 

Last Updated: December 10, 2023

If you’re planning to adopt a German Shepherd, you might wonder what to do with your dog while you’re at work. German Shepherds are great family dogs in that they are loyal, affectionate, and sometimes clingy such is their devotion to you. However, they can also be left alone, especially if they are trained to keep themselves entertained in your absence.

To keep your German Shepherd busy while you’re at work, bring in companions (dog sitters, dog walkers, other dogs, etc.), and use toys to keep him entertained, such as puzzles and treat dispensing toys. Give your dog a view to occupy him (window, TV), and always ensure he is well-exercised before leaving.

In this article, you will discover what to do with your German Shepherd while you are at work to keep your dog busy. I’ll also point out their respective strong points and nuances.

Here’s what you can do when leaving your German Shepherd alone:

  • Leave the TV on 
  • Use dog puzzles
  • Record yourself giving commands
  • Leave him at doggy daycare
  • Give him a window view
  • Give him a new toy
  • Get him a treat-dispensing toy
  • Teach him to play fetch with a ball launcher
  • Sprinkle treats around the house for him to find
  • Freeze his food in ice – so it is released with a delay
  • Hire a dog sitter
  • Adopt another dog
German Shepherd With Toys
My German Shepherd Willow with some of her favorite toys – look at that face!

Can I Work Full Time With a German Shepherd?

Working full-time with a German Shepherd is possible if your dog doesn’t have separation anxiety. Moreover, you need to take time out to exercise your dog daily. Many GSDs get anxious when left alone, making it difficult, but not impossible, to work full-time while being the owner of a German Shepherd.

If you’re asking me how long you can leave your dog alone, you can find a ton of info in my guilt-free guide, How Long Can German Shepherds Be Left Alone? But, in a nutshell, you should not leave your adult dog alone for longer than 4 hours, and considerably less for young pups.

If you leave a dog alone for longer than four hours, you risk them engaging in destructive behavior due to boredom or separation anxiety.

Nonetheless, the following contexts make it easier to work full-time while owning a German Shepherd:

  • You have family nearby – If you have family or close friends nearby who can keep your dog company, he might not even notice that you are gone. 
  • Your neighbors own a dog – If your neighbors don’t mind walking your dog in your absence, life as a dog owner becomes more manageable.
  • You can hire a dog walker – If you’re out at work all day, you can hire a dog walker to pop in twice throughout the 8 hours you’re away.
  • You can leave your pet at a daycare – Doggy daycares can be expensive but are among the best solutions for full-time working professionals.
  • You can take your dog to work – Very few professions allow bringing pets to work. And if you’re among the lucky few who can bring their dogs along, do so. You might not get any work done, though, unless you work in the Police K9 unit!

While the contexts above can be considered fortunate and ideal for full-time employees who own German Shepherds, they’re not the only circumstances in which a full-time employee can own a dog.

You can go to work at a regular 9 to 5 if you have a German Shepherd as long as you know how to keep your dog busy in your absence. Clearly, you’ll want to incorporate some of the suggestions above.

Do Dogs Really Miss Us When We Leave them Alone? Watch This Video To Find Out…

What To Do With Your German Shepherd While At Work

An idle mind is the devil’s workshop, and it’s that devil that makes your German Shepherd think you’ve abandoned him whenever you go to work. As long as your dog is exercised, distracted or busy, he doesn’t have the time to feel lonely.

You should keep your German Shepherd busy with toys, treats, distractions, or other humans while you are at work. A busy dog doesn’t dwell on his loneliness despite missing you. He is still delighted to see you, but not because he spends the entire day feeling abandoned.

Here are a few ways to keep your German Shepherd engaged in your absence.

1. Leave The TV On

The television might not be the best babysitter for kids, but it is pretty good at keeping a German Shepherd engaged. Make sure the channel that’s on isn’t displaying anything violent. Calm content or even an animated series can keep your dog distracted.

“My GSD loves to watch ‘One Man and His Dog,’ which is a UK television series featuring sheepdog trials. I think she can relate to her breeding purpose!”

World of Dogz

Make sure your TV has sufficient grounding, though. Otherwise, it might get knocked over if your dog feels threatened by the content, especially if he has a high prey drive and a program about squirrels comes on!

Before leaving your German Shepherd alone with a TV, I’d recommend watching TV with him, so he absorbs your TV viewing etiquette. In any case, this would be all part of socializing your pup.

Group of German Shepherds

2. Introduce Him To Puzzles

When you’re around, your GSD is constantly observing you. That’s why you might find him staring at you as well. That means your presence can keep him from being bored (to an extent) even if you’re not playing with him.

Puzzles like the Outward Hound Dog Brick Interactive Treat Puzzle Toy from Amazon can be beneficial in keeping your dog mentally stimulated in your absence. A puzzle toy can be a lot more engaging than idle observation.

While most dog puzzles can have this effect, I like Outward Hound a lot because it is specifically designed for big dogs with separation anxiety and keeps your dog engaged. It is a pretty fun toy for your dog, regardless of whether you are around or not, and with almost 100,000 positive reviews, many other dog owners think so too.

3. Record Yourself Giving Commands

If you like the idea of using the TV to keep your dog occupied but aren’t sure about the content on the telly, you can always choose to pre-record content for your dog. This could mean replaying TV shows you think will be safe and fun for your dog or actually recording yourself waving at your dog and giving him commands.

I know it can seem weird, but it works wonders. Dogs have been proven to react positively upon seeing their owners on screen. That’s why products like the Furbo Dog Camera exist, which allow owners to interact with their pets remotely. I love this gadget as it has everything from being able to hear and speak with your doggo to tossing him a treat every now and again.

Since dogs aren’t smart enough to know what’s live and what’s a replay, you can get away with recording a Zoom call and playing it on a screen in your absence.

4. Give Him A View From The Window

A German Shepherd resting on a bed and looking out the window.
Willow looking out of the window

If high-tech options don’t suit you, go with a classic. A window can keep your dog pleasantly distracted in your absence. You just need to arrange a safe way for your dog to peer through the window. These are a few situations where using a window to distract your dog isn’t a great idea.

  • If you own an expensive breed – While GSDs are usually deterrents that stop intruders and prevent break-ins, if they are expensive enough, they might encourage people to get into your house. 
  • If your dog might be perceived to be in danger – If your GSD looks helpless and desperate, people might assume that he needs to be saved. Usually, people break car windows to rescue overheating pets. But someone might break your house window out of similar good intentions, even without significant danger.

5. Leave Him At Doggy Daycare

Don’t want to risk leaving your dog alone and having the neighbors think he needs to be rescued? Drop him off at a doggy daycare.

This is by far the best option but is not very accessible for some. The first barrier to entry is the cost of enrolling your dog. The second is the availability of doggy daycares and daycare spots.

If money and availability aren’t serious barriers, you should definitely go with this option. And if that isn’t something you can do, try talking to the neighbors. Families that own and love dogs can happily take yours in for the day.

6. Give Him A New Toy

Toys that can dispense treats are the best tools to engage your GSD in your presence or absence. I love the Kong Dog Toy, which can be filled with a liquid/foam treat that your doggo will enjoy. It’s also a multipurpose toy and is great for chewing and playing with due to its unpredictable bounce.

See also: 5 Best Kong Toys for German Shepherds

7. Teach Him Automated Fetch

Toys like the iFetch Interactive Ball Thrower can shoot a ball at a relatively safe speed. Such toys are easy to load, and you can teach your dog to fetch and load a ball. My article on training a GSD covers using positive stimuli to get your dog to learn commands faster.

9. “Pepper The House” With Treats or Kibble

Another way to ensure that your German Shepherd is happily occupied and playing in your absence is to spread treats around the house and let him find them.

The treats better not be too sugary, though. The calories can add up. I recommend using pieces of kibble for this game. That said, your dog might not be very keen on a kibble hunt – unless he is hungry, of course!

10. Freeze His Food In A Block Of Ice

Try the block-freezing technique for more enticing food options, including raw ones. Put a food item your dog loves inside a bowl, fill it with water, and put it in the freezer. Once the ice forms around the food item, you can leave it for your dog while you are away.

It will give your dog plenty of time to play and salivate. However, there is one drawback: the ice turns into water. That means you won’t be able to use this method on carpeted floors!

New German Shepherd. A GSD Puppy playing with a ball.

11. Call A Dogsitter or Dog Walker

If all else fails, you can hire a dog walker. Professional dog walkers charge about the same as entry-level professionals in the region. Still, the cost can add up if you get dog-sitting services. Every hour you make money at your job, you have to pay someone to take care of your dog.

12. Adopt Another Dog

Finally, you can try the good old, have a kid to raise a kid method. By adopting another dog, you can make your current dog less lonely. The cost of this depends on the dog food prices and the medical expenses in your area.

It is a high-risk tactic as it is possible that your dogs hate each other, and you end up needing extra supervision. Make sure to learn how to introduce your dog to another pet and choose a pet of the opposite sex to reduce same-gender aggression.

Final Thoughts

German Shepherds don’t like being alone for too long, especially when they have separation anxiety. But if you have no option but to leave your dog alone while you go to work, at least make sure he has regular company throughout the day.

You don’t want him dwelling on his loneliness. GSDs must be trained to entertain themselves, so you must start this process early.

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.

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