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  • Writer's pictureFiona Alder

Leaving Your Puppy Alone

Updated: Mar 5

Dogs are social animals, they need company and to feel safe & secure in those early months in their new home. Teaching your puppy to feel happy when they are left alone takes time, a good place to start is to teach your pup that being away from you in the home is not something to worry about and brings good things.

Puppy training
Puppy with a chew toy

start without leaving the home

So how do you start training your puppy to be happy when left alone? The best place to start is getting your puppy happy to be separated from you when you’re still at home. Use dinner time to teach your puppy that going away from you brings good things. Have someone hold your pup while you place their dinner bowl on the other side of the room, go back to your puppy and let them go. Your pup will quickly learn that going away from you is rewarding. You can work on moving the bowl further away and eventually out of sight (as long as your puppy is comfortable with the distance). Do this at least 3 times a week.


Incorporate training into your daily routine

Once your puppy is comfortable with their food bowl being away from you, schedule in times every day that your puppy spends alone with a food dispensing toy, these should be very short periods to begin with, ideally after some play or exercise when your puppy is more likely to settle down. Leave out a food dispensing toy filled with something smelly your puppy loves, it's a good idea to hide it in another room so they are rewarded for exploring away from you. Tie it somewhere so they can't bring it back to you.

Tip - before you try this, train your puppy to use food dispensing toys while you are in the room with them, make it easy to access the food, to begin with, and gradually increase the difficulty. Freezing a Kong is a great way to make them last longer!


Before leaving your puppy alone, desensitise them to your leaving cues

You don’t want your puppy to be focusing on you leaving the home, there are lots of cues that can cause anxiety. It's important to build in desensitising your puppy to any leaving cue's before you actually leave.

List everything you do before you leave the home - picking up keys, putting on your coat, putting on your shoes, going to the toilet, walking to the door and do these things randomly without going anywhere so your puppy doesn't just see you do them when you are about to leave.


Start with very short absences

When your puppy is happy to be apart from you when you are still home, for at least 30 minutes, try short absences with you leaving the home (this could take several months depending on the puppy but it's important not to go too quickly to avoid causing any anxiety or stress). Only leave your puppy once they have had some exercise or play, been fed and been to the toilet, so they are ready to settle down. Ideally exercise or play should be fairly calm so that your puppy doesn't get too over-excited and then struggles to settle. If you go for a walk, do this about an hour before your leave, an overstimulated pup won't want to settle down! Leave something appropriate to chew on and in a place your puppy will be safe and is used to being left in. Never start with long absences, just a few minutes to begin with is good and over time this can be extended.


keeping things low-key & calm

Keep greetings and partings low-key, if you give your puppy lots of attention as you leave it will be harder for them to settle down and could make your pup more anxious once you've gone. Keeping your departure & arrival calm and low-key will help your puppy remain calm and not see it as a big deal. Wait until they are busy with a food dispensing toy or chew toy before you casually leave the room and when you return calmly let your puppy out of their safe area without a fuss, but don't ignore your puppy as this may lead to frustration, calm greetings are fine.



NEED MORE HELP?

All puppies are different and some struggle with being left alone more than others. Teaching your puppy to be alone and happy is part of my puppy training packages. Get in touch for more details.













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