There may be times you need to leave your retriever outside such as if you have a long day at work, you have guests who aren’t dog people, or you have a social event. Due to the nature of this breed, leaving your dog alone for long periods of time inside or outside is not recommended.
Golden retrievers can live outside, but most vets and animal protective organizations strongly discourage it. This dog can get into mischief and serious health situations that can lead to harm.
Characteristics of a Golden Retriever
Golden Retrievers originated as hunting dogs. Duck hunters needed a dog capable of retrieving ducks from water and land. Guns started to shoot at longer and longer distances, so this breed began fetching at lengthier clips.
This breed has a waterproof coat and medium-length hair. This coat made them perfect hunting dogs. Their coat makes people believe this four-legged friend can live outside. While these dogs possess hunting characteristics, as well as enjoy being outside running, playing, and swimming, they possess the need for companionship, shelter, warmth, and protection from disease and parasites.
A perfect family dog, golden retrievers prefer outdoor activities with their human counterparts. They pair perfectly with an individual or family who plays outside often. Even though they love to be outside, they always prefer to be in the middle of the family they love.
These canines feel happiest when living in a pack and having a leader. They trust you to take care of them and they desire to take care of you. This explains the reason your dog follows you everywhere; my retriever even follows me when I go to the bathroom.
When is it Ok to Leave Your Golden Retriever Outside
Always remember, just because the dog can live outside alone, doesn’t mean they should. They possess the capability of surviving the outdoors, but they don’t possess the capability of thriving outdoors.
Golden retrievers can play or go potty by themselves, which is completely fine in a controlled environment. This is only true for adult dogs. A puppy should never be left unattended outdoors. Neither a puppy nor an adult dog should ever be left to sleep outside.
Adult Golden Retrievers possess the ability to stay outside alone for a longer period of time, as well as long as the environment complies with all of their needs. If you must leave your adult Golden Retriever outside unattended, provide:
- An adequate amount of food and water
- A kennel or shelter that keeps them warm in colder temperatures and cool in sunny, warmer temperatures. The temperature must always be a consideration. Dogs can suffer hypothermia and heat stroke just like humans. The optimal temperatures for Goldens fall between 60 degrees and 80 degrees and anything above or below these temperatures should only be for a short time.
- Chew toys for entertainment. Chewing comes naturally to Golden Retrievers and escalates when lonely or anxious. I know the thought of my dog being lonely while I’m away breaks my heart.
- A secure yard or area. You don’t want a stray dog coming into the yard. An encounter with a stray dog not supervised can lead to injuries and escape attempts. I don’t want my dog to try to follow a stray and then lose her way home.
Common Behavior Issues and the Effects of Being Left too Long Outside Alone
Golden Retrievers are very active dogs. Because of this, they exhibit behaviors that may harm them if left uncorrected or without training:
- Pulling on a leash – Golden Retrievers want to see people and other animals. Their curious nature makes them pull toward an object of their desire. A dog tied up on a leash or lead outside creates a potential for escape and injury.
- Digging – The curious Golden Retriever digs if it sees something in the[kl10] ground or if it thinks there might be something in the ground. An unattended retriever causes damage to your property and potentially to itself.
- Destructive Chewing Habits – Goldens love to chew, chew, chew. Chewing becomes a problem when chewing happens on the wrong items. Many times, simply removing the object takes care of the problem. If the object happens to be larger in nature, like porch furniture or decks, a Golden requires redirection. The redirection from ruining outside objects does not exist with an unattended dog. This breed also chews when they feel alone or anxious. Once again, they rely on companionship. Chewing signifies loneliness and anxiety. A Golden left alone too long and without supervision results in a mad owner and a sad dog.
What Care Does a Dog Who Has Been Left Outside Too Long Require?
Unfortunately, accidents happen. If your dog or a dog you see has been left outside too long and requires first aid, it’s best to know what to do.
Hypothermia in Dogs
If a dog has been left outside too long in the cold, it may develop hypothermia. The symptoms of hypothermia are:
- Shallow and very slow breathing
- Prolonged muscle stiffness
- Pupils that don’t move with differing light
- Not being alert
If these symptoms occur, the best thing to do is to take the dog to the nearest vet immediately. If you do not have access to a vet close by, administer first aid:
- Wrap the dog in a blanket, preferably a warmed blanket. You may also carefully use a hairdryer
- Provide warm water for the dog to drink
- Take the dog’s temperature every 10 minutes and log the temperature so you can relay it to the vet
- Use a hot water bottle that has been wrapped in a blanket or towel and keep it on the dog’s stomach
- Try to keep the dog resting and still
The website, petmd.com has an emergency page about Dog Hypothermia that you may find useful.
Heatstroke in Dogs
If a dog has been left too long outside in the heat, it may result in your dog having a heatstroke. The common symptoms of heatstroke in a dog are:
- Sticky and dry gums
- Bruised gums
- Quick breathing rate
- Being disoriented
If your dog or any dog exhibits these symptoms, administer the following first aid steps immediately:
- If possible, get the dog immediate vet care.
- Cool the dog’s body in a controlled way.
- Poor cool, never cold, water on the head, paws, stomach, and under its legs.
- Make sure there is a continuous flow of cool air over the dog.
Consult pedmd.com’s website Dog Heatstroke for emergency information.