Training A Puppy To Be Alone: Teaching Puppy Independence
Do you live a rather active lifestyle, work a job that requires the usual 40 hours plus a week, or are you just a busy person?
Also, do you own a puppy? Many new dog owners run into the problem of not having anybody to be there at home with their puppy and having absolutely no one to call or no means of finding a solution to the problem.
Training a puppy to be alone for 8 hours of the day or longer can be a challenging task to undertake but sometimes it can be your only solution for solving this problem.
For my experience with training a puppy to be left alone at home for the first time see results below
Yes, that is the carpet to my brand new apartment with a huge hole in it. This is the result of leaving a Jack Russel Terrier at home alone for 2.5 hours.
Leaving a puppy alone at home for the first time will be a very daunting and scary experience both for the puppy as well as the owner. Learning what it takes to leave a puppy alone at home will come with a few uncertain surprises but, in the long run, will all be worth it once you discover how it should be done.
First, here are some do’s and don’t to leaving your puppy home alone while you are at work.
- Clean Up – Make sure there that your puppy is not able to meet any valuable possessions that may be lying around. For some reason, dogs seem to always ruin our most valuable assets first.
- Consider Buying Pet Insurance – There will be damages. Hopefully, your puppy will be nothing like mine was and you won’t be responsible for repairing damaged carpets and furniture.
- Observe While Absent – About a year ago I was given a Furbo Dog Camera (link to Amazon) as a gift from a neighbor of mine that had 4 big dogs. The Furbo Dog Camera allows you to watch your dog from your device (phone, tablet, etc) and monitor their behavior. It also allows you to speak to the dog and interact with them by tossing a few treats to them. If your puppy thinks that they are being watched then they will likely not tear your house apart. I personally used and tested The Furbo Dog Camera in my apartment for about a year now and it has saved me tons as well as trained my dog to always be on his best behavior even when he thinks that no one is watching. I highly recommend that you give it a try.
- Enlarged Confinement – Allow your dog to have a bit of walk around space. By using items like Pet Enclosures by North States (link to Amazon). This rather large enclosure will give you a sense of security knowing that your puppy is safe inside and unable to cause any serious damage while simultaneously being able to walk around and play.
Durable “Bite Proof” Bedding (link to Amazon) choices for your puppy will also be a good idea if you live in a house where hardwood flooring or ceramic tiles are being utilized in your puppy’s play area.
I recommend filling the Pet Enclosure with a variety of different dog toys and chew toys to keep your dog distracted while you are gone. Also, in order to avoid yourself from cleaning up any puppy leftovers then use puppy potty training pads.
For tips and tricks for potty training, your puppy read our “How To Potty Train Your Puppy” article. I will also strongly encourage using a Spill-Proof Dog Food Bowl (link to Amazon) inside the enclosure depending on the length of time you expect to be away from home.
- Lock your puppy in a closet or bathroom – Being in a very small room for an extended period of time can cause your puppy to react in an intensive panic. Your dog will bark, scream, and cry until they are removed and set free.
- Leave your puppy in a crate for too long – A puppy’s crate is specifically intended for your puppy’s bed time or for use as training. “Crate Training Techniques” are discussed here. It is not recommended that a crate be used if you plan on being away at home for more than 8 hours at a time during the day.
- Do not go out of town – This is pretty much self-explanatory on why you should not leave your puppy at home alone for over 24 hours. Anything can happen.
How to train
To begin training your puppy to be left at home alone I recommend that your puppy is at least 4 months of age because this is where some sort of understanding is beginning to develop in your puppy.
You will start off by simply leaving your house for short periods of time. For starters begin by using 5-minute intervals. At this stage, it is recommended that the Furbo Dog Camera be utilized. Leave your house then simply watch your puppy via your device and see what they do.
Is there a sign of panic or fret shortly after? If so, try to shorten the time intervals from 5 minutes to about 3 minutes. Continue repeating this process until your puppy’s behavior improves knowing that you are not around.
Extend the period then to about 30-minute intervals then 45-minute intervals, then an hour, then about 3 hours. Remember to monitor your puppy during this training in order to ensure they are damaging nothing of importance to you or your family.
Continue this interval training process for a few weeks or until your puppy seems to have completely figured out what you expect of them while you are away from the home.
The Reason They Panic
Your puppy has never been alone. When female dogs give birth, it will usually be surrounded around a litter of puppies until they are able to survive without the mother being around. Around this time is usually when puppies are separated by dog breeders and a salesman and are and sold to prospective dog buyers.
It is not uncommon for your puppy to develop separation anxiety. Separation anxiety is when an extreme feeling of anxiety is provoked when puppies sense that they will be separated from their families or their owners. You will notice your puppy will react by barking, loud cries, whining, causing damage to objects in your house or by excessive defecation.
Preventing and Curing Separation Anxiety
If you are someone that allows their puppy to sleep in their bed, take car rides everywhere together and just spend most of the day together then chances are you are not teaching your dog how to live or even function correctly without you being around. Doing this will harm your dog way more than it will actually help them in the long run.
In order to prevent your puppy from developing a severe case of separation anxiety then you must schedule a time to spend with them. Playing with your puppy for a few hours a day is okay but after all the fun is done it is time for you guys to part ways.
The objective is to spend less time with your puppy and the goal is to actually get them to become more independent canines. Although this bird will certainly never need to leave the nest it is best to equip them with the tools necessary.
Quick Tips & Hints
Tip #1 – Before you decide to leave your house, it can be quite beneficial for you to wear your puppy out a bit. Physical or mental games with your dog will make them feel tired and exhausted. By doing this your puppy will usually fall straight to sleep. To provoke physical tiredness out of your puppy, playing games like fetch, chase, tag, or tug of war will usually get the job done. Taking it a step further and provoking their minds will guarantee the job gets done.
BrainTraining4Dogs is a program that equips the dog owner with puppy training skills that will allow them to better communicate their commands to their dogs and will cut their puppy training learning curve completely in half. This program elicits obedience and good behavior in puppy training as well as allows dog owners to unlock their dog’s absolute full potential.
Tip #2 – Have a neighbor or family member nearby in case of an emergency. Although the Furbo Dog Camera will make it easier for you to observe your dog and make minimal interactions with them it is still impossible for you to react appropriately in the event of an emergency.
It is best to keep a secret key hidden around your house when there is something going on with your dog so that you may call your neighbor to explain the situation and have them make any necessary actions on your behalf since you are unable or too far away to return home.
Tip #3 – Background noise is a great tool to keep your dog cool calm and relaxed. Maybe keeping your television turned on when you leave if at all possible.
Your dog will assume that the voices that are being heard mean that somebody is at home also. This trick will usually help with any barking or whining your dog will usually do when the only sounds they can hear are their own.
Tip #4 – Depending on the state you live in and the time of the year, it is best to set your thermostat to a temperature your puppy will be comfortable with for 8 plus hours. More long-haired dogs get hotter much faster than short-haired dogs. Please consider these facts when attempting to determine an optimal temperature for your puppy.
This is perfectly normal in younger puppies, but they will eventually learn to overcome the separation anxiety and quickly become young independent dogs.
Training a puppy to be alone will take time, roughly about 5-6 weeks on average to adequately perfect your puppy’s behavior while you’re not around.
I hope that this article has been both helpful and insightful in assisting you with developing the skills necessary for training your puppy to be left alone at home while you are at work, school, at the gym, or simply just taking care of some chores and handling business.
Be sure to check out some of our related articles for more helpful puppy training tips.
Interested to learn more about tips and tricks of taking care of your new puppy? Click Here.