How to Leave a Puppy Alone - Training and Tips!
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You're off to work and the kids are going to school, and so the time has come to leave your puppy home alone. However, you may be asking yourself how long you can leave them alone for, how old they need to be to cope being alone and how to train them or prepare for leaving them alone at home.
In this AnimalWised article we're going to answer all of these questions so you can know how to leave your puppy alone safely. Keep reading to learn more!
How long can a puppy be left home alone?
Dogs are gregarious animals, which means that they are always with their family or “pack”. This is what makes them feel safe and happy. But it is logical that sometimes we have to leave our puppy home, either because we have to go to work or go shopping and we can't bring them with us.
So, how long can we leave our puppy home alone? This will depend on their age and education. Young puppies from 5 months of age can be trained little by little to spend some time alone. Similarly, adult dogs should not be alone for more than 4 hours. Beyond this time, dogs suffer from separation anxiety and will feel abandoned.
Puppies, on the other hand, need a lot of attention and care and still cannot be left alone that long, so it is recommended that you ask someone to take care of them when you have to be away for a long time. With that being said, a puppy up to 4 months old shouldn't have to be alone for more than 2 hours.
You must also remember to make sure all their needs are met and that they have plenty of toys to play with while you are gone.
How to leave a puppy alone
Ideally, your puppy won't be left alone until they are 5 months old. You can ask a neighbour, family member or friend to look after you puppy if you must leave them alone. However, at times, this just won't be possible. This is why we must slowly train our puppy to be alone and understand we always come back.
We must keep in mind that when the puppy moves in with us, they have never been alone before, because their siblings kept them company throughout the day for the first few weeks of their life. Therefore, it is understandable that it is difficult for your puppy to stay home alone at first. To get a puppy used to being left alone, the most important thing is to be patient with our little pup.
After arriving at their new home, your puppy will need time to get used to the surroundings, the people, the routine, and their possibly older companions. If we leave them alone directly, the little one could get stressed and panic. To avoid this, we want to gain confidence and strengthen ties with him, build a solid relationship with the puppy. That is an important prerequisite for them to be relaxed and be able to be left alone at home. When your puppy has settled down after a few weeks, you can begin doing certain short exercises so they can slowly learn to be alone without stressing out or suffering from separation anxiety.
Once your puppy is 2 months old...
During the first few months your puppy should not be left alone. It would be best if a family member always stays with the little one for the next 5-7 weeks after their arrival in the new home. During this season, the puppy feels insecure and needs to get used to his new family.
To get your puppy used to being more independent, start with gentle exercises. For example, when he's distracted with a toy, leave the room every now and then for a minute, but no more, so he doesn't miss you just yet. In this way, he learns that you will come back after you leave and that it is completely normal to be alone for a while.
Once your puppy is 3 months old...
Over time and after having gotten the puppy used to being alone for a minute in another room is normal and that nothing happens, the level of difficulty can be slightly increased. Now leave the room even if the puppy is not distracted. First stay only two minutes outside and go back into the room. The most important thing is that you do it in a relaxed way and every day, to show them that it is normal. If the puppy cries while you are away, ignore him and reduce the time you are away next time, but pet him or give him a treat when he has remained calm, a method known as positive reinforcement in dogs.
If the puppy manages to be alone for several minutes in a room, you can start leaving the apartment or house for a few minutes. However, you should not leave a sleeping puppy alone. In addition, it is better that you do not say goodbye to him, but see it as something normal and frequent. At first, just go out for a few minutes, go dump the trash or check the mailbox. If you show you are calm, your dog will notice it and will not be nervous either.
When the puppy masters these frequent and brief absences without problems, the duration can be increased and with different durations. From time to time, come back after ten minutes, then after five, fifteen another time, etc. This will allow you to get used to the flexible hours as your return is unpredictable but assured.
Once your puppy is 5 months old...
Now that you've done the previous exercises and your puppy is older and more independent, you can begin leaving him alone for 1-2 hours. If you're off to school or work for more hours, it's best to get them a dog sitter so they do not suffer being alone for too long.
You will also want to make sure that they've gone for their walk, got a nice meal and leave them fresh water to drink. You can also leave their favourite toys out so he can play with them if he's feeling playful. This will help your dog be calm and entertained when home alone.
Tips for leaving a puppy home alone
Many puppies are afraid of abandonment, this is why we must help them trust us and understand that we will always come back. To avoid separation anxiety in your dog and having them suffer while you are gone, here are some tips that can help you leave your puppy alone at home:
- Have a routine: take the puppy out every day and also on the weekend at the same time before you go to work. Try to get him to exercise, both physically and mentally, in order to tire him. A puppy needs a minimum 30 minute exercise walk. This way he will relax when you get home and rest during the time you are gone.
- Mealtime: keep in mind that the puppy must eat before you leave, but they can also potentially vomit the food from the stress of being alone. Therefore, plan enough time before you leave so that the dog can eat quietly and then relax.
- Prepare a quiet place for him: leave toys for puppies, his bed, food and fresh water at his disposal. It has to be a safe place or room, where he cannot destroy cushions or furniture. But do not lock him in a small room or tie him up because that way he could feel trapped and he will associate this bad feeling with being alone.
- Be careful with choking: do not leave him sweets or toys with which he could choke. You should always be able to watch your puppy when he is eating bones and treats. Dogs often begin to destroy unsuitable toys and eat them in pieces so we must be careful.
- Background music: some dogs react well to soothing piano music, radio or television noise. Try to calm him down by leaving the television on with the sound on low so that he feels accompanied.
- Ask for help: if you have to leave your puppy alone for more than two hours, ask your neighbour, friend or a family member to stop by and even take him out for a walk. Remember that puppies are still not in full control of their bladder.
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