If you’re like most people, you have to work for a living. As a new puppy parent, leaving your new Golden Retriever puppy alone can be a very stressful (and guilt-ridden) experience. However, you can ensure that your puppy is calm and well adjusted when being left alone with some planning and preparation before returning to work.
So, how do you raise a Golden Retriever puppy while working?
The key to raising a Golden Retriever puppy while working is knowing what to expect beforehand and implementing a structured plan. A plan that includes home preparation, teaching your puppy to be alone, and enlisting help when necessary will make the process manageable and less stressful.
When working and leaving a Golden puppy alone, the main issues are that puppies need to relieve themselves frequently and require plenty of exercise and socialization.
Puppies are also very dependent on you, especially when they are very young. Basically, you have become your puppy’s parent. A Golden puppy left alone for too long may experience separation anxiety and other behavior problems.
Home Preparation for Leaving Your Golden Retriever Puppy Alone
Control the Environment
When raising your new puppy, the biggest thing you can do to help the process, whether you are home or not, is to control your puppy’s environment. To do this, you have two options; a dog crate or using a playpen, baby gates, or a room in the house to create a confined area.
A dog crate is an excellent option for short periods.
Most Golden puppies will love their crate (if you make it a positive experience), so crate training is an excellent idea.
However, the crate is a smaller space. Some puppies may do better with more freedom, especially when your Golden Retriever puppy becomes a bit older and larger in size.
As a general rule of thumb, Golden puppies that are less than 6 months of age can’t hold their bladders for more than 4 hours and should not be crated for longer than that. For puppies that are 4 months or less, an hour or two is all they can handle in a dog crate.
No dog should be crated for longer than 4 hours, puppy or not. They need to be let out to do their business and stretch their legs. Dog crates are a tool, not a prison.
The advantage of the confined space option is its larger size. A confined area like a puppy playpen still keeps your puppy safe and secure, but the extra room allows for your puppy’s food and water dishes, a bed, and some toys. Your Golden puppy also has more space to move about and play.
Depending on what you use to cordon off an area for your puppy (e.g., baby gates, playpen), you may be able to expand the size of that area as your puppy grows.
If the confined area is large enough, you can also place the crate within that space with the door open (this is a great option). Your puppy can then use the dog crate when and if desired, and it gives your puppy an additional layer of security.
Puppy Proof the Confined Area
Are there toys that your puppy can easily pull apart and choke on? Are there items that, if swallowed, could cause poisoning or stomach issues? Can he be cut or get entangled in anything? Can he snag an ear, paw, or tail?
If you’re using puppy pads, will your Golden puppy chew and swallow them? Are there electrical cords within the puppy’s reach that are chewable and that could pose a shocking hazard?
You get the picture!
Whether opting to use a crate or confined area, make sure the place you have chosen for your Golden puppy is safe and free of hazards. Look at it from your puppy’s point of view to pinpoint any potential safety issues.
Golden puppies will have potty accidents as they adjust to being left alone. If you arrive home to a mess, don’t be angry. Just remove your puppy from the enclosed area and clean the mess with no emotion. You wouldn’t punish a toddler for having accidents during potty training, and it should be no different for a puppy.
Just continue to do your potty training as you normally would. As your puppy gets older, accidents will become less frequent. With age, your Golden Retriever puppy can hold its bladder longer and will learn to wait until it can go outside.
Adjust Your Schedule
If possible, you should take a week off work when bringing home an eight-week-old puppy. This time is not for formal training, such as teaching your Golden puppy to walk on a leash, sit, or lay down. It is for establishing a trust bond and for potty and crate training only. Taking a week off now will make the return to work much easier.
Once you go back to work, if you have the flexibility to come home during lunch or at other times during the day, that would be ideal. Depending on how far your commute is and how well your relationship is with your boss, this can work very well.
Not only is this option inexpensive, but you can spend time with your puppy, which helps alleviate the guilt of leaving him alone. In addition to allowing your puppy to relieve itself, you should take your Golden puppy out for some exercise and play.
And you never know, some workplaces allow employees to bring dogs to work. If you’re one of those lucky ones, then avail yourself of that option once your puppy is older and fully vaccinated.
You may need to enlist help if you cannot come home from work or can’t spend enough time with your puppy when doing so.
Teach Your Golden Retriever Puppy To Be Alone
Golden Retriever puppies will experience separation anxiety to varying degrees. Introducing your Golden Retriever puppy gradually to being left alone for increasing amounts of time will help the puppy adapt more quickly. Just understand that it may take some time.
When teaching a Golden Retriever puppy to be alone, an excellent way to begin is to place a high-value chew toy in the crate or confined area with your puppy. Then leave the room for 30 seconds to a minute (or less) and return. Reward your puppy and give him praise. Gradually increase the time you are away. In a few days to a week, you can build up to a fair amount of time.
Make sure when you leave the room or house, it’s as low-key as possible. Fawning over your puppy and giving hugs and kisses goodbye may benefit you. However, it teaches your puppy to become anxious every time you leave. Leave the hugs and kisses for when you come home.
When possible, look for opportunities to put your puppy in the crate or the confined area while doing other things. For example, while tidying up the kitchen or cooking a meal. Although your puppy may still see or hear you, it reinforces the concept of being away from you for extended periods.
Enlist Help From Others
A dog sitter is essentially in-home babysitting for your dog. Most will do it at their home and have multiple dogs, but some will offer to come to your home privately (at a higher cost). Some dog walkers will also provide dog sitting as an added service.
A dog sitter is an excellent option when your Golden puppy is very young. As mentioned previously, a puppy under 4 months of age should not be crated for more than an hour or two, and they require more attention. A dog sitter will not only give your puppy ample attention but oversee potty and possibly crate training.
Puppies are usually not fully vaccinated until 16 weeks. Once your Golden puppy is fully vaccinated and 4 months of age or older, you can then explore the option of a dog walker or doggie daycare.
Dog walkers can be a great option depending on your budget. They provide potty relief for the pup, exercise, and much-needed socialization if the service includes walking with more than one dog.
There are many good dog walkers in most areas that are reputable and do good work. Your job is to screen them to ensure they are respected, good at what they do, and utilize positive training methods only. You do not want a dog walker that punishes your puppy for misbehaving.
You should also be very clear with a dog walker on any expectations you have. For example, if you don’t want your puppy to be walked in crowded, busy areas, then you need to communicate any limitations and expectations at the outset.
Doggie daycare is also a great option but can be more expensive than dog walkers. But not always, so if there are a few in your area, check out prices.
With this option, you’ll be leaving your dog with a daycare, much like you would with a child. The doggie daycare will have multiple dogs and areas for playing. They will also feed your dog if necessary (provided you bring the food).
Like dog walkers, you want to ensure the business is reputable. Go visit the facility beforehand to ensure it’s clean and well run. Inquire about how they select their dogs and what they do when there are disagreements. They should not allow aggressive dogs in their facility. As for references, if you want an extra level of confidence.
Almost all doggie daycares will require proof of vaccinations and avoid those that don’t. A well-run doggie daycare will also require your dog to be spayed or neutered.
The advantage of the right doggie daycare is your Golden puppy is in a controlled environment and has socialization all day. A reputable doggie daycare provides supervision and structured play.
The disadvantage could be if your puppy has a bad experience with other dogs, it may cause him to be fearful. Dogs are like people; they don’t like everyone. That’s fine, but you want to make sure the doggie daycare is equipped to handle these situations and that they will work with your puppy to ensure his stay is always positive.
Family, Friends, and Neighbors
Most people love puppies. Often family members or friends will jump at the opportunity to pop in and play with your puppy. Alternately, if the puppy is less than 4 months of age, a family or friend may enjoy the opportunity to be a full-time dog sitter. This could be a good option until your Golden puppy is old enough to be alone for a much longer time.
If you opt for these solutions, make sure any family member or friend you choose has the right temperament for watching your puppy. Ensure they don’t punish the puppy or are not harsh with him. You may need to give them some instruction on how you want them to handle your Golden puppy. And that should be positive-reward-based training, not punishment, based.
Neighbors can be a great resource if you have a good relationship and trust them. Like friends and family, make sure your neighbor is onboard with your training methods. Your neighbor should also have a personable temperament.
Exercising your Golden puppy before you leave the house is a good idea. A walk before getting ready for work can be beneficial. Exhausting pent-up physical and mental energy will help reduce anxiety.
Golden Retrievers are smart and can quickly learn and recognize your routines. If possible, get dressed and do your morning ritual where you are not seen. If your puppy learns the signs that you are getting ready to leave the house, it may increase anxiety levels.
Leave plenty of chew toys and bones with your puppy. Puppies usually have a few high-value toys they cherish or a toy that comforts them.
If using family, friends, or neighbors to watch your Golden puppy, screen them to ensure they’re a good match for the job and that they have the right temperament. Communicate your expectations clearly to anyone watching your puppy. It can be awkward firing someone you have a relationship with or often see.
Leave a radio or television on while you are away. Ensure the volume is not too loud, and the content is relaxing. It provides background noise for your puppy and can drown out other outside distractions that could cause anxiety.
Leaving your Golden Retriever puppy alone while working can be difficult. Understanding the challenges and issues involved is an excellent first step. Implementing the right plan that addresses these issues will help ease any separation anxiety for both you and your Golden puppy.
By implementing the solutions discussed, you can feel confident that your Golden Retriever puppy will be calm and well adjusted while you’re working. Take comfort knowing that your puppy will be fine, and so will you.