How to Train Your Dog to be Left Alone
When you get a new puppy or dog it is a very exciting experience and you will, understandably, want to spend all of your time with them. However, you need to train them early on to be able to deal with your absence. If you don’t, this can lead to some more serious behavioural problems in the future. It might seem cruel, but it is both better for you and the dog if you give them some independence and let them understand that you won’t be there 24/7.
You may also be wondering if it necessary for you to train your dog to be alone, and the answer is yes. Now, let’s have a look at how you can actually train your dog to be alone.
- The best way to get your puppy used to being alone is to start by doing it with short intervals. If they are used to you being gone for a few minutes with nothing bad happening, they are much less likely to be scared of being alone for longer periods of time. These short intervals can be as simple as going to the bathroom and making sure your puppy is in a room where it can’t sit by the bathroom door.
- Another good thing to do as you increase the time of your absence is to make them enjoy the time without you. Don’t worry, this definitely won’t make them forget you. But if you have to go somewhere for a short while, perhaps give them that new teddy that you have bought them. One thing to note is, make sure that you don’t leave them unsupervised with treats as any treat can be a choking hazard.
- Get your puppy used to a crate, this will help them cope with being alone as well as give them a safe place to sleep. There is a lot of ethical debate surrounding crates, but as long as you get one that is the correct size for you dog, they are perfectly fine. Dogs actually find small spaces comforting, this means they are much more likely to feel safe if they are in a crate when you are gone. When getting them used to the crate, you should stay and supervise them for the first few times so that they feel reassured. You can also make the crate a more rewarding experience by giving them a special toy which they only get when they are in the crate.
- This is quite possibly the most difficult step but try not to make a major fuss when you arrive home or leave. It is every owner’s wish to simply smother their dog with love when they return and to give them lots of hugs when they leave, but these interactions actually make it a lot harder on your dog. It makes your absence a much bigger deal to them. As well as this, you are praising their excited behaviour when you return and praising this behaviour can lead to other unwanted behaviours like jumping up at strangers.
- If you are really nervous about leaving your puppy alone, you can watch them with a dog monitor. I would personally advise to not have one that allows you to speak to them, this will confuse them and make them agitated when they are not able to find you. But having a monitor can put you at ease and make you more comfortable leaving when you need to. A monitor can also help you observe if there are things that stress your dog out when you are absent.
- Get a white noise machine or play music. This works particularly well for older dogs that have either not been properly trained or ones that have been adopted from shelters and are stressed in their new home. Classical music has been shown to greatly calm dogs in times of stress, keeping this playing on a low volume can help them to relax when you are absent. As well as reducing the stress, it also helps with the second point of making your absence an enjoyable experience for them.
Why does my dog need to be used to being alone?
If we all had our way, I’m sure that most of us would want to spend every second that we have with our pooches. So why do they need to be trained if you’re going to be there all the time? It is an important thing for them to learn as incorrect training can lead to more serious and problematic behaviours in the future.
If they are not used to you being alone when they get older, they can become more destructive in your absence. They may chew furniture and be much noisier. It is also not a very nice experience for them.
Should I reward my dog with treats?
Most training methods involve the reward of treats, but this is one of the situations where giving them food rewards is a little more tricky. If you give them treats at the wrong time then you are helping them associate your return with good things, such as treats, and your absence with bad things.
But don’t worry, there is a way you can use all of our treats you bought to help train your dog to be alone. As discussed before, try to make your comings and goings not a big deal. When you return, especially the first few times, your dog is going to be very excited.
Try not to fuss them too much and wait until they have calmed down. Once they have calmed down, then you can give them a treat. Giving them a treat after they’ve calmed down will help enforce this more docile behaviour, it will also make you arrival less of a big deal to them.
You shouldn’t give your dog treats before you leave though, dogs should be supervised at all times when given treats so save them for when you have returned to a happy and calm dog.