When I bought my first house with a yard, I knew the first thing I wanted to do was get a Doberman Pinscher. I worked full time though and wasn’t sure if a Doberman could ever adapt to my schedule and be left alone for an 8-hour workday. If this is you, let me reassure you that it is possible, it just might take some extra effort especially in the beginning.
How long can you leave a Doberman home alone? While each Doberman’s personality is different, in general, an adult Doberman shouldn’t be left home alone for more than 8 hours while a puppy shouldn’t be left alone for more than 4 hours. Puppies under 4 months of age may need additional attention. Dobermans are prone to separation anxiety.
This is the best guideline I can give you but the truth is, many of us who have 8-hour jobs need to be able to leave our dogs home alone for 9 to 10 hours. There’s drive time to and from work, and very often we have an hour lunch break at a job that’s too far away to be able to make it home during the break. Luckily, you can still make it work if you plan things out carefully.
There are even remote pet cameras now which will allow you to see, talk to, and even dispense treats to your dog remotely while you’re at work. I listed a few of these in the Cool Doberman Tech Gear section of my Recommended Products page.
Leaving an Adult Doberman Home Alone
Leaving an adult Doberman Pinscher home alone is a lot different than leaving a puppy. We’ll talk about leaving a puppy alone in a minute, but first I want to reassure you of what’s possible once your dog becomes full grown.
Dobermans are very intelligent and adaptable dogs. Once they learn what the house rules are, you’ll find yourself slowly becoming more and more trusting of your dog being home alone. Of course, each dog is different and you’ll have to learn what your specific dog can handle, but eventually, an adult Doberman can be left alone during your 8 to 10-hour workday without a problem.
Just to be clear, 8 to 10 hours won’t work if your dog is kept in a crate when you leave. But an adult Doberman should be trusted to be outside of his or her crate and even let themselves outside to go to the bathroom (usually by using a doggie door). Make sure they have this concept down before attempting this or you could come home to some nice welcoming puddles of joy for you to clean up in the house after a hard day’s work.
Here are some basic tips for making sure your adult Doberman has what they need so you can get through a full day of work.
- Leave out at least two water bowls. If your dog accidentally knocks over a water bowl the first hour you’re gone, it could be serious. So leave out at least two water bowls to be safe.
- Provide plenty of chew toys. Dobermans are prone to separation anxiety of varying degrees, although this tends to be less of an issue as they get older. Any anxiety they do have is usually expressed through chewing. So make sure your Dobie has plenty of chew toys around, especially toys that are mentally stimulating. A shortage of chew toys means they just might start to chew on something they shouldn’t. I have compiled a list of my favorite chew toys that are also mentally stimulating here.
- Tire out your dog before leaving. Going for a walk or run before you leave for work for the day is not only healthy for you but can help your dog deal with his or her time alone. It’ll reduce anxiety for your Doberman and make it much more likely they’ll just sleep while you’re gone. A puppy might even sleep the whole day while you’re gone. See more about how much Doberman puppies can sleep (it’s a lot) with my article all about average Doberman puppy sleep times.
- Arrange for a mid-day visit if possible. If you can make it work with your schedule, pay your dog a mid-day visit during your lunch break. Taking him out for a quick walk, play with him, and give him some praise for being a good boy while you were gone. If this isn’t possible, consider getting a dog walker to come by.
- Ensure you have adequate fencing. We have a 6-foot tall privacy fence around the backyard of our house which works great. Just make sure your dog is well contained with a good fence. If he does start to get anxiety with you being gone, he could decide to start exploring the fencing. If there’s a way out, and an adventure to be had, your curious Dobie might just go for it.
My 5-year-old Doberman is very well behaved in his adult years now and he knows the rules of the house. I could leave him alone for 24 hours straight without worrying about him (even more if I had to). In fact, at one point we had a family emergency and we had to leave him from morning one day until evening the next day. We made sure he had plenty to eat, drink, and toys to play with and he did absolutely great!
He slept in his bed, put himself out through his doggie door to pee, didn’t destroy anything and was completely trustworthy. To be clear, I hated doing it and it was an emergency situation. I don’t ever plan to have that happen again and I’m definitely not recommending that you should do this. However, it is good to know what he’s capable of.
Doberman’s are very adaptable dogs. Many people will give you some extreme answers to this question like “you shouldn’t leave your dog alone at all,” which is true in an ideal world. But this world isn’t ideal and most of us have to work for a living to be able to afford our gorgeous Dobermans. In my opinion, you lucked out choosing this breed, because you couldn’t have picked a better dog to adapt to their living situation than a Doberman.
Raising a Puppy with a Full-Time Job
Here’s where things get interesting. Yes, a Doberman puppy who isn’t potty trained yet and doesn’t know the rules of the house is going to need a lot more attention than the very self-sufficient adult Doberman I described in the previous section.
Besides being more prone to intense separation anxiety, puppies also need frequent potty breaks, they’re more prone to flipping over their water bowls or getting into something they shouldn’t, and very often start off by being crate trained. In fact, I will talk a lot about crate training because I think this is the best way to train your puppy to hold it while you are at work.
Here’s what a typical day might look like for a Doberman puppy who’s going through crate training while their owner is at work.
- Morning Routine – Wake up, go for a walk and play ball for 15 minutes. Focus on tiring your puppy out, giving him lots of love and attention.
- Give Food and Water – Give your puppy food and water at least an hour before you leave for work.
- Potty Break – Bring them outside to “empty them out” (potty them) as much as possible.
- Put in an Appropriate Crate – Put him in the crate 15 minutes before leaving the house. The crate should be covered with a blanket on three sides so it’s more like a den. The crate should be large enough for your pup to comfortably turn around in, but not too much larger than that.
- Provide Lots of Chew Toys – Make sure there are chew toys inside the crate so they can work out the anxiety. No overly stimulating toys though, this should be nap time, not playtime.
- Check on Your Pup – After no more than 4 hours, come home to let him out for a potty break, give some attention to them, provide water, then place back in the crate. If this isn’t possible due to your work situation, hire a dog walker to come by.
- Arrive Home – After arriving home from work, take your pup out calmly, potty, water, and praise him for a job well done while you were at work after a few minutes. Overly excited greetings immediately upon arrival can increase their separation anxiety while you’re gone.
If you are wondering what specific equipment I use for dealing with a Dobie puppy at home, I have made a list of what I recommend for new Doberman puppies here. My hope is that this list can save you a whole lot of time and money. I wasted plenty of both testing things that just didn’t work for Dobermans.
Note: In general you should not leave your puppy home alone more than the number of hours that they are old (in months). In other words, if your puppy is 3 months old you shouldn’t leave them in their crate for any more than 3 hours without a break. At 4 months it’s 4 hours, at 5 months it’s 5 hours, and so on.
Never put your dog in their crate as a punishment. You want the crate to be a happy and relaxing place, not a place of punishment.
Just make sure that your Dobie doesn’t start peeing in his or her crate. If this happens with any kind of regularity it will be detrimental to successful potty training. If this starts to happen, it means you are leaving them alone too long. You need to find a way to give them more potty breaks during the day and may have to hire someone to come by.
Remember also that Dobermans have growth plates in their legs that are still forming when they are puppies. So although it’s great to thoroughly tire them out before putting them in the crate, don’t go on long runs on concrete until they are at least 18 months of age. It can cause real damage to your developing Dobie’s body, especially if you’re running on concrete or asphalt.
Dealing with Separation Anxiety
First off, I made a detailed video all about how to deal with separation anxiety in Dobermans which you may find useful (available here on YouTube).
Separation anxiety is a problem in many Dobermans. They are intelligent dogs that thrive on close human contact. If you leave your dog alone too often or too long when they just aren’t mentally ready for it they might get separation anxiety in the form of:
- Howling or barking.
- Destructive behavior like chewing on things they shouldn’t be.
- Excessive crying.
- Swallowing things they shouldn’t (this is very dangerous).
The best thing I can say is to know your dog. Some dogs suffer greatly from separation anxiety while others don’t seem to very much. I was lucky with my Doberman Cooper who only seemed to struggle with it as a puppy. As an adult, he really has no problems—especially after I found the one key that really worked to break him of this habit.
Iheartdogs conducted a poll on 714 Doberman owners and asked them if their dogs ever had separation anxiety. 9% said their dogs had severe separation anxiety, 36% said moderate, and 55% said none. They defined separation anxiety as “bad or anxious behavior when left alone.”
The best thing you can do if your dog struggles with this is to make sure to provide plenty of toys to keep them busy (especially food injected toys like certain Kong toys for example), have someone come by to play with them and tire them out more during the day, or practice leaving on your days off.
To practice leaving, start by leaving the house for 5 minutes and listening for any signs of anxiety. If there are none, go back in and reward your dog. Then do it for 10 minutes, then 20 minutes. Eventually, your Dobie will understand what’s expected of them and you may be able to work through the issue completely.
I have an entire article dedicated to separation anxiety on this site since it’s such a major theme with the Doberman breed. You can learn all the methods for preventing Doberman separation anxiety here.
The Key That Finally Solved Cooper’s Separation Anxiety
What finally seemed to break my Dobie of his separation anxiety was simple; I stopped getting overaly excited to see him when I got home from work—or making too big of a deal when I left for the day.
It’s hard to do at times, but when I would leave, he’d be in his pen about 10 minutes before I’d leave so that he could calm down. Then when it was time for me to go, I’d say a calm “good-bye” to him and leave. When I got home, I would calmly walk up to him, pet him, and tell him I was happy to see him. Then I would let him out of the cage.
Before, I used to make a huge deal saying big long good-bye’s to him before leaving. I’d also jump up and down and hug him multiple times—really going overboard when I got home. This calmer good-bye when I left, and hello when I got home, was the key that seemed to finally work for breaking his separation anxiety issues when nothing else would.
Leaving Your Doberman Alone Outside
Just a quick word about leaving your Doberman alone outside while you are gone. If your dog is old enough and able to let themselves in and out of the house through a dog door, it’s fine that they have access to the outside. But you should never lock your dog outside while no one is home.
For one, Doberman’s have thin skin and a single layer coat. They get cold easily and can even overheat fairly easily as well. Also, if they are left outdoors it increases the chances of kids coming by and teasing your dog which may cause them to develop aggressive behaviors. That is not something you want to struggle within your 100 pound Doberman down the road.
Lastly, never ever tie your dog up outside. They can literally tie themselves up in the rope or inadvertently strangle themselves. It has happened more than once in the past so don’t do this to the new member of your family.
Do Dobermans have separation anxiety? Many Dobermans suffer from separation anxiety and will often express it by crying, howling, barking, and destructive behavior. Dobermans are highly intelligent and thrive on close human interaction throughout the day.
Can a Doberman be left home alone while you’re at work? In general, adult Dobermans who are fully house trained and understand what’s expected of them can be trusted to be left alone indoors during a typical 8-hour workday without issue.