Canine royalty, intelligent, athletic, speedy, loyal, bushy tail, and pointed ears are qualities that describe the German Shepherd. But having a pet that’s considered easy to train, given it can understand any new command only after five repetitions, should it be okay to leave it at home and still find it waiting?
You shouldn’t leave your German Shepherd alone for longer than 8 hours a day. German Shepherds are herding dogs and ranked as the third smartest breed, so once a German Shepherd gets bored, he will engage in mischief and destructive behaviors. These include chewing, digging, or howling.
Nonetheless, if you can’t help but leave your German Shepherd alone, read on to find out the ideas you can implement to reduce your anxiety and keep your dog busy. But before we get into that, let’s look at the temperament of your dog as it will determine which tactics will work and which won’t.
German Shepherd Temperament Overview
The German Shepherd is a very active breed of dog. They are powerful, highly alert, confident, and they don’t like to stay behind closed doors.
This doesn’t mean that they cannot be indoors. However, they will be happier if you gave them something to do since they are active dogs by nature. A simple task like tracking a scent or giving him a toy to play with can be very beneficial to him since it kills boredom.
Ideally, you should start training your dog as early as eight weeks old. Early training allows you to mold your dog’s personality, socialize him, and establish you as the alpha.
German Shepherds are pack dogs. Therefore, if you fail to establish yourself as the alpha from the get-go, your dog will think he is the alpha and start exhibiting aggressive behaviors or separation anxiety whenever you leave him alone.
This has less to do with him being a dog, as most people believe, but it has everything to do with his lack of confidence in the leadership he sees. What follows is confusion then anxiety, which he takes out on the people around through aggressiveness and destructive behavior.
A German Shepherd is also easily stimulated. Hence, you should ensure that you exercise him for an hour or two each day. This is not only good for his health, but it is also a good way to rid him of mischief and boredom.
How to Keep Your German Shepherd Busy When Alone
Now let’s look at ways you can keep this outdoorsy dog occupied even when you are not home.
Leave Him Food and Water
A hungry dog is an angry dog. German shepherds like chicken, fish, salmon, which are all healthy foods for the dog. Therefore before you leave home, ensure that his plate has enough food and water to stay hydrated. This will keep him occupied before he notices you are gone.
Leave the Window Curtain Open So Your Dog Can See Outside
It is established that your German Shepherd does not like staying indoors. So how do you keep him there, when you need to? Feed his curiosity.
You can do this by opening blinds and window curtains so he can satisfy his inquisitive nature. Like other dogs, German shepherds like watching birds, moving cars, and other distractions that might be happening outside. The more distractions, the better.
Doing this will keep his attention held for a while, so make sure you return before it runs out unless you left him in an enclosed park.
Put on His Favorite TV Show for Him to Watch
Do you notice how your dog likes to watch whenever you are watching TV? This is the best time to establish what he likes. According to dog behaviorist Cesar Milan, dogs like to watch since this is how they learn.
Whether it’s a game on TV, dog shows, or movies, whatever you watch alongside your dog that gets you excited, he’s most likely inclined to enjoy it. So put on his favorite tv channel and let him enjoy it.
Give Toys to Your German Shepherd
As long as the toy is chewable and safe to bite, you can give it to your dog to play with. Toys are a way to keep your German Shepherd’s mentally stimulated and entertained, which will provide a distraction from his mischief.
Just make sure to return early so you can be his fetching companion. German Shepherds are fast learners, and so do they like to please. Once he learns how to play fetch, this will surely be your go-to game any day, any time.
Leave His Cozy Bed in Sight So He Lays on It Whenever
For such a hyper dog, it is expected that he gets tired sometimes. Nonetheless, how long your German Shepherd sleeps will essentially depend on his lifestyle.
On average German Shepherds that partake in less intense activities tend to sleep for 12 up to 14 hours a day. In comparison, those working in watch or military operations tend to sleep less.
Even though a German Shepherd is less likely to have a sleeping pattern, a soft couch or bed is one way to encourage him to sleep. He may also choose to jump instead of sleeping. Regardless, playing is better than destroying things and digging through walls.
Hire a Dog Walker
This is a viable option if you can afford $15 to $20 per a 20-minute walk. As you probably know, hiring a dog walker can be quite expensive. Nonetheless, it is a good way to keep your German Shepherd exercised and get him to spend unused energy.
Leave Your German Shepherd With a Playmate
The best time to start introducing your German Shepherd to people, places, and other dogs is when he’s nine weeks. If then your dog is socialized, he is less likely to be aggressive when you leave him with a playmate.
Proper training and socialization allow your dog to remain friendly, giving you the encouragement you need to leave him with another dog who can keep him company.
Leave Your Dog With a Trusted Friend
The main purpose of socializing your German Shepherd is so that he doesn’t exhibit hostile behavior whenever he’s near other people. Familiarizing your German Shepherd with your friend’s place is a good idea before you start leaving him with them.
Should You Crate Your German Shepherd While You’re Away?
Crating a German Shepherd only makes him feel imprisoned or as if he’s being punished. But if all else fails, use a crate in the following situations:
- Use a crate if your dog cannot be controlled. This is a good way to manage his behavior. Note that you need to take the age of the dog into consideration.
- Use a crate if there’s a child around, and you’re not there to supervise. A German Shepherd is a dominant dog, so it is not wise to leave him alone with a child unsupervised.
- He is still new and yet familiar with his surroundings.
Your dog is likely to react differently depending on his temperament. This means the above methods are not guaranteed that your dog will not chew furniture, curtains, damage clothes or shoes – especially if he’s left alone for longer periods.
Given that the German Shepherd likes to stay outdoors, you should implement the above methods to buy time before your dog realizes you are gone. And if you have to leave the German Shepherd alone for long periods, consider leaving him with friends.