can Golden Retrievers live outside
Golden Retriever Purebred

Can Golden Retrievers Live Outside?

Last Updated

Golden Retrievers are one of the most popular family dogs in the world. They are sociable, people pleasers that love to be around people and to play with kids. They are also fairly big when fully grown, and tend to shed a lot of hair, which is not ideal if you are a fussy home owner.

So, is it possible to have a cute Golden Retriever as your family pet, while not letting him in the house?

Can Golden Retrievers live outside? The answer is no. It's cruel to force any dog to live outside permanently, especially a breed as friendly and loving as a Golden Retriever. It is possible to leave them outside sometimes for short periods, as long as they are safe, have shelter and plenty of water.

Golden Retrievers are a large, energetic breed, so of course they need to be outside for a while every day so that they can get some exercise. Just don't leave your Retriever out there all of the time, or by himself. These dogs, like most dogs, want to be around people and to interact with us. Leaving them outside by themselves is cruel as they need our companionship and love to be happy.

Is it ok to leave  a Golden Retriever outside by itself?

It's ok to leave your Golden Retriever outside for short periods of time, but there are many reasons why they can’t live outside permanently. The main reason is that Golden Retrievers, and dogs in general are pack animals that require regular interaction with other dogs and with us humans. 

Even though they are different in many ways, dogs still behave a lot like their ancestors, wolves. If you study wolf behaviour, it is pretty clear that they spend all of their time being in a pack. They hunt, feed, play and sleep as a pack and their lives depend on it.

In many ways, dogs need to be part of a pack too. When we give a dog a home we become their pack, and forcing them to live outside on their own would be unnatural and cruel.

Sometimes there are exceptions to this. It's not uncommon for working dogs, such as those found on a farm, to live in outside kennels or a barn or shed. These dogs are less family pets and more wolf like in behaviour. Their basic needs still need to be met by us, but their social needs are different.

Golden Retrievers were bred to be hunting dogs, but as a family pet they are not working dogs. Whilst they could survive living outside, the average Retriever would not do well living outside by himself.

Can you ever leave a golden retriever alone outside?

Yes a Golden Retriever will be fine outside for short periods of time. Most healthy adult dogs enjoy some time outside, especially if you've got a big back garden that they can explore.

Border collie and Golden Retriever at doghouse

Most dogs will usually enjoy a break away from us humans. They will usually spend their time sniffing around, looking for new smells. Or they will often take a nap for a few hours. 

Golden Retrievers are smart dogs and can get up to mischief if they are left alone for too long, They can get bored after a while, so it’s important that you’ve got your yard or garden set up properly before you leave him out there.

Here are a few tips to help keep your Golden Retriever safe and sound while he’s outside without you.

  1. Make sure he’s got a safe, dry kennel. A good sized kennel or access to a safe garden shed is important for protection from the sun and from the wind and rain. Most adult dogs when they are left outside will have a nap, so you should always provide a safe place for them to curl up if the weather is not suitable for lying around outside or if you can't let them back inside the house for a while.
  2. Leave out a bowl of fresh water (and food if necessary). If you are going to leave him outside for a couple of hours, you should always leave a fresh bowl of water out for your Golden Retriever. It goes without saying that this is extra important during the summer. Try leaving out a bowl of ice in a shady spot if it's a warm day. This will provide cold water for a few hours until you get back.
  3. Make sure that the garden or yard is secure. For his own safety, you don’t want your Golden Retriever breaking free and getting into trouble. Golden Retrievers are strong and agile and can jump over or climb a fence if they really want to. A solid fence or wall that is at least 6 feet tall should keep him from getting out.
  4. To stop your Golden from getting bored you should consider hiding some treats in the garden for him to hunt out. Don’t be tempted to leave chew toys with your dog when unattended as these often break and you should always be around to supervise when your dog is playing with toys.
  5. Before you leave your Golden Retriever outside for extended periods, be sure to spend some quality time playing with him or exercising him. If you live near a beach pr park, a good run will help to burn off some mental and physical energy. I find that my dog will usually sleep when she is outside if I have brought her for a walk beforehand.

What Are the possible hazards when leaving a golden retriever outside?

All dogs are different. Some don't mind being outside by themselves for a while, whilst others will become anxious and will scratch at the door and bark until you let them back in.

Golden Retrievers are smart, energetic dogs, and will usually get bored if left by themselves for long periods of time. As a result of boredom or anxiety, they may get themselves into trouble by being destructive or even hurt themselves if they are left in an unsafe garden.

Before you leave you Golden Retriever somewhere like your back garden, you should check a few things to make sure it's safe and secure. Here are some things to consider before leaving your Golden Retriever outside:

  1. Check the weather forecast for good and bad weather. Exposure to very hot or very cold weather can be dangerous for any dog. Even if your Golden Retriever has plenty of water and shelter, you cannot be guaranteed that he will be safe. Golden Retrievers have a double coat to protect against extreme cold or damaging UV rays on a sunny day, but this also makes them susceptible to overheating on really hot days, even in the shade.
  2. Check for dangerous flowers and other plants. Most dogs will usually sniff out something that is going to harm them and will avoid it. However, sometimes they will either get it wrong or will eat a plant or shrub out of boredom or anxiety that will make them sick. Make sure that your garden is dog friendly before you leave your Golden in it. Even if the plants are safe for him to eat, he'll probably still eat them if he gets bored.
  3. Make sure harmful chemicals are securely locked away. There are lots of smelly things such as cleaning chemicals and paints in a garden shed. These can be interesting to your Golden Retriever, and he will try to investigate and possibly taste them if he has the opportunity. Be sure to keep any potentially harmful chemicals locked away so there is no risk of poisoning.
  4. Be Careful of local wildlife. Depending on where you live in the world, there may be other animals that could hurt or attack your Golden Retriever. Farm animals, foxes, birds, snakes and even other dogs may be able to get into your garden without you knowing and these can all be a threat to the safety of your dog when you’re not around.
  5. Minimise the potential for your garden to be destroyed. Any dog left alone has the potential to get bored. This usually results in stuff getting chewed up, dug up or torn apart. My own dog chewed the roof off his kennel when we left him alone for a few hours. Try to minimise the chances of this happening as things like wood, stones, plastics and rope can if swallowed be dangerous and possibly fatal for your Retriever.

Are there benefits of letting your dog live inside?

Dogs, especially working and hunting dogs, will generally be happier and more at peace if they are allowed to be part of the family (or pack). The best way to achieve this is to let them live inside with you and your family

Golden Retrievers are one of the most popular family pets in America today. The reason for this is that they are a loving, gentle, social breed that are great around kids and other family pets such as cats. They love nothing more than to be indoors, surrounded by their family.

golden retriever benefits

There are plenty lots of benefits when it comes to letting your Golden Retriever live indoors. For starters, it’s generally safer for your dog to be indoors with you. Your home gives them shelter from the cold in the winter, and somewhere to cool down in the summer when you’ve got the air conditioning turned on. When they are outside, they can get up to all sorts of mischief and possibly eat things that will make them ill. 

If you’ve got children, Golden Retrievers make a great playmate and if you want will cuddle up to you and keep you warm after the kids have gone to bed. A recent study has shown that growing up around animals can have a beneficial impact on your health. Children that live in homes with dogs have a lower risk for developing autoimmune illnesses like asthma and allergies. 

How to train your Golden Retriever to stay outside

There may be times when your Golden Retriever will need to stay outside for a short while. Maybe your mother-in-law is coming to visit and doesn't like dogs, or you're painting the living room walls and don't want paint paw prints everywhere!

It's a good idea then to get your Golden Retriever used to being by himself for short periods of time.

You can easily teach most dogs to calmly stay outside by themselves for for short periods. If possible you should start the training when your Retriever is a puppy. Dogs love a routine and if you get yours into the habit of being left alone from day one, then you'll have no problem leaving him alone as he gets older.

Remember to start off slowly and be consistent. Your Golden Retriever puppy is not going to be happy by himself for any length of time at first, so only leave him for a few minutes at a time be sure to return with praise and never shout or reprimand him if he doesn't settle by himself.

There are lots of training tips you can use to teach your Golden Retriever to be comfortable by himself. Here are a few training techniques that I use whenever I'm training a dog.

1. Leave one of your old shirts or towels outside with him. Your old clothes will have lots of familiar and comforting smells for your puppy. Your scent will help to relax and comfort him when you are not with him. 

2. Take him for a walk straight after leaving him alone. Make exercise or a game of fetch with his favourite toy the positive reward for being alone. If he doesn't behave or keeps barking for you to come back, don't reward or chastise him, just ignore the behavior until he gets it right.

3. Make it into a game. Hide some treats around the garden before you leave your puppy alone. This can help reduce boredom and separation anxiety. If you want to focus his attention away from your prized Begonias, try making a digging pit just for him with treats or toys buried in it. 

4. Leave some food outside. If you've only got one puppy then you might be able to leave his food with him while he's alone. Only do this if you can keep an eye on him from indoors, don't leave your puppy alone with food if you're heading out for a while. Also be aware of other animals that may try to pick a fight or steal his food.

5. Crate train your dog. Crate training your Golden Retriever when indoors is a great way to encourage some alone time away from you. Crate training can appear to be cruel if you've never tried it before. Most dogs love their crate when they get used to it as it's a safe place they can relax in when they need some time out. It also gets them used to not being able to follow you around all of the time.

If you are a first time Golden Retriever puppy owner, then there are lots of things to learn. It's really important to start training your Golden puppy from day one so that he becomes a well mannered, well socialised member of your family.

Here's a great video with some great tips for Golden Retriever puppy owners

About the author

Emer Thomas

Emer Thomas

Emer has been around dogs all of her life. At a young age, she learned all about caring for dogs from her father, a top Irish breeder. She is now a dog breeder, former champion show dog handler and cup secretary of the Cairn Terrier Association of Ireland. She currently has two dogs, Lady Millie the Border Collie and Alfie the Springer Spaniel. Her interests include dog social training, dog nutrition, and dog metacognitive studies.