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Can You Leave a Great Dane Home Alone? Important Advice

How your great dane tolerates being left alone is something very important to consider. As responsible dog owners, we have to think about how leaving the house will affect our canine companions in both the short and long term. This article has everything you need to know.


Can a Great Dane Be Left Alone?

Great Danes should not be left alone for long periods of time. Danes are highly sociable and rely on having human company.

When alone for more than a few hours extra measures are necessary to ensure your great dane remains calm and stress-free.

This is a typical trait shared by all great danes and we can look to their upbringing to find out why. Great danes were used by the German nobility to both protect their estates and to hunt wild boars.

Through this kind of “pack life” and working background, great danes learned to develop strong bonds with their owners. This level of respect and bonding carries on today despite the domestication process.

The next question many ask is how long can a great dane be left alone? The honest answer is that it’s different for every great dane and all will have their own personal tolerance.

Some danes will be ok for 3-4 hours, and others just 30 minutes. There isn’t one answer that fits all, your great dane will have his own tolerance.

There are ways to figure out your great dane’s tolerance through your own testing, but I will explain more about that later.

What Happens When a Great Dane Is Left Alone Too Often

let’s run through the reasons why being left alone is an issue to be taken seriously. If your current routine involves your great dane spending many hours alone, he may be susceptible to the following.

Separation anxiety

Separation anxiety is when a dog becomes severely attached to one or two people (usually the owner) and cannot tolerate any amount of time without them.

This is a serious life-changing condition that some experts believe to be incurable once developed. This condition can start by being left alone too often.

Isolation distress

Isolation distress is less serious than separation anxiety, but still an unpleasant condition that’s worth avoiding.

It’s when a dog gets stressed and anxious the moment they are completely alone but will feel calm and happy again as soon as someone or at least another dog is with them.

Additional behavioral issues that can happen:

Temperant changes
Destructive behavior
Increased aloofness
Stress and depression

The trouble is that it’s hard to know when any of these conditions may develop. For some great danes who really don’t cope well, these conditions may happen quickly, whereas, for others, it may be longer.

Either way, at least one of the above will happen, eventually.

Signs You’ve Been Gone Too Long

When you arrive home the first thing you can do is observe how your great dane reacts, and then check the state of your home.

Body language will be crucial in understanding how your great dane tolerated being left alone for any given duration.

Run a simple test. Try timing yourself the next time you leave the house, this way you can use this as the first test. If you were out for 1 hour and you came home to a calm, restful dane with no apparent destruction, then it would indicate that 1 hour is within his tolerance. The next time you leave, increase the time slightly to either 1 and a half hours, or 2 hours, and once again, observe his reaction and the state of your home.

Four signs your great dane was stressed while you were out:

There’s evidence of destructive behavior from scratching on the doors, windows or destroying anything they have access to

Looks very unsettled when you arrive, cowering, overly attached to you, and generally flustered

There’s urine on the floor despite being let out before you left home

He’s shaking or trembling when you arrive

Sometimes it’s easier to look for signs of comfort rather than discomfort. Perhaps when you enter the room he’s just getting up from a nap, stretching, yawning, or happily wagging his tail.

These are all great signs! His calm demeanor and ability to rest while you were out, suggests that the duration was tolerable for him.

But still, probably the best way to know how your great dane is doing is with a pet camera. Pet cameras are basically like indoor CCTV.

You can set them up in the room where he is, and you’ll be able to access it anytime from your smartphone. Instantly, you can see and hear your great dane. I will explain a little more about these later on.

Popular Great Dane Articles:
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What About When You Work Long Hours

Long work hours are a problem for great danes, and for us! This is fundamental to the main question and is usually what owners are concerned about the most. How can you help your great dane when your house is empty throughout the day?

The first thing to try (which you may already know is not possible for you) is to get flexible hours or take your lunch break at home. For some, this may actually be attainable, and for others, it won’t. It doesn’t hurt asking and if you can, then you’ve just instantly changed your great danes life! Even just an extra 30-45 minutes of company at midday will break up the long duration he may already be enduring.

Ask friends and family. The next step to take is to ask friends and family to visit your great dane preferably at the mid-way point between when you leave and come home. If your family members or friends have dogs themselves they will be more understanding and willing to help, so it’s worth giving it a try. Although, again, I know that this is still a long shot for most and it may not be a long-term solution.

Hire a dog sitter or dog walker. The next option, and in my opinion the best option is to just hire someone to come around and either sit with your great dane for an hour or take him out for a nice walk.

I know, at first, it seems scary to have someone else in your home, but nowadays this service is well established, and companies do a great job at vetting everyone. Each person has reviews from other dog owners and you can even interview them yourself beforehand (which I suggest).

I think this is the ultimate way to keep your great dane happy while you are gone. First of all, nothing beats having real company, and truthfully that’s the only way your dane will remain calm and content.

And secondly, because it’s a paid-for service, they come exactly when you arrange for them to without excuses. Plus, if you develop a long-term working relationship you may be able to figure out a better deal for sustained work.

6 Ways To Keep Your Great Dane Happy When Home Alone

Apart from the methods above, there is a range of other ways to help your great dane remain happy and calm when home alone.

1. Create a dedicated space for him

It’s best not to leave him the whole house. Instead, create a specific room that he stays in when you are gone, preferably the quietest room to prevent outside noises spooking him.

A dedicated space can have a lot of his toys, comfort items, and his bed. If you work to build positive associations with this specific area in the meantime, it will soon become a place where he will feel safe and secure.

The more secure and safe your great dane feels while you are gone, the longer he’ll remain calm.

2. Leave him your unwashed t-shirt

If your great dane will rip it to shreds, this may not be appropriate, but for those that won’t, it’s a game-changer. Leaving him your unwashed t-shirt is a ninja trick not to be ignored. The sense of smell in dogs can be up to 100,000 times stronger than ours. Super powerful, right!

This makes your scent incredibly important and for him, there’s a noticeable difference in the strength of your scent when you leave the house. However, if you sacrifice an unwashed t-shirt, your scent will be right next to him and very strong.

Although you won’t physically be there, having such a strong scent of you will keep him very calm and relaxed as if you were in fact there. It’s a neat little trick, but if your great dane has a tendency to rip things, take caution.

3. Leave the radio or TV turned on

Leaving the radio or tv on will indeed help your great dane when left alone. But it’s usually due to a reason many aren’t aware of.

It’s not the fact your great dane particularly loves the sound of your local radio host, or that he thinks there’s someone in the house still, but it’s that the radio can drown out external noises that would have otherwise spooked him.

Many outside noises like people walking by, traffic, neighbors’ pets, and even wild animals will keep your dane on-edge and unable to rest. By having the radio playing, it will drown out some of the external noises, allowing him to rest more easily.

4. Provide interactive puzzle toys

Interactive puzzle toys are great at keeping your great dane entertained and busy for long periods of time. The difference between normal dog toys and puzzle toys is that there’s usually a challenge to figure out, and in return, a treat will be received.

Some puzzle toys are more suitable when someone is there to assist, and others can be left for the dog to play with alone.

For great danes, the large kong classic toy stuffed with peanut butter is an excellent option. Most great danes LOVE peanut butter (just make sure it doesn’t have xylitol or high salt) and it is safe for them assuming they do not have peanut allergies.

To make the toy and treat last even longer, after filling it with peanut butter, put it in the freezer. Yep! you can do that. This will freeze the peanut butter and will therefore last a lot longer as it thaws out. Your great dane will be occupied for hours!

5. Exercise before you leave him

Another crucial step to take is exercising before you leave. Assuming your great dane is at least 2 years old, take him out for a brisk 30-minute walk before you need to leave him alone.

Great danes are fairly sedate anyway, but they still do require exercise. By giving him a brisk walk before you leave, he’ll be even more inclined to rest or sleep while you are gone.

And yes, this may mean waking up earlier than you already do! sorry!

6. Invest in a pet camera

Pet cameras are awesome. For the benefit they bring, they are very reasonably priced. A pet camera can be mounted in the room where your great dane resides while you are gone. Nearly all have two-way audio, and some even have two-way screens.

Being able to instantly see your great dane whenever you have a free moment at work is invaluable. You will immediately see how your great dane is coping. You’ll see whether he’s sleeping or pacing around looking anxious.

Although this doesn’t allow you to leave work, it does put you in a position to call a friend or family member or have your dog sitter come earlier.

By seeing your great dane, you are better prepared to help him, and you’ll only know this by using a pet camera. Our favorite one is from Conico and it’s awesome. Check out the reviews here.

The Main Take-Away From This Article

If your great dane is currently spending more than 2-3 hours alone, it’s time to make a change.

Great danes NEED human company in order to be calm, happy, and relaxed. Without it, a range of serious conditions will likely develop, whether it be soon or in the distant future. But what’s for definite is loneliness, and that’s happening every time already.

Whether you have to ask friends or family members or eventually take the plunge and hire someone, it’s an important life-changing step to take.

If you are considering hiring someone soon that is awesome and you will find many local services with a simple Google search.

Thank you for reading! I really hope I have answered your questions on this topic. If you think I have missed out on anything that will help future readers please contact me. I am always happy to make adjustments to my content.

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Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. Please read our full dislcaimer if you have any questions.