How to Train a Puppy to Stay Home Alone

Medium
3-6 Weeks
General

Introduction

Trying to work your busy schedule around a new puppy can be one of the more challenging things to manage when you first bring him home. Your pup needs plenty of attention, love, exercise, and training. Don’t forget that house training will likely be necessary on top of that. So when you step out of the house, how can you be sure that your puppy won’t struggle with your absence?

Dependency and separation anxiety in dogs can be unfortunately common. Behavior issues and destructiveness can result when your pup constantly worries about when you’ll come back. Or whether you’ll come back at all. It’s important to adjust a puppy early on to your comings and goings so he’ll be that much more comfortable in the notion that you’ll eventually be coming back to him.

Defining Tasks

Getting your puppy to adjust to your absence should start as early as possible to prevent a more serious issue from developing. Puppies who are dependent on their owner’s presence are harder to wean off of the habit of being stressed when you walk out the door. With enough reinforcement, however, your puppy could be perfectly content with napping the day away or occupying himself with something else entirely instead of pacing nervously in front of the door.

Some puppies may struggle with this training more than others, so you’ll be in for about three to six weeks of reinforcement and training when it comes to separation. Staying consistent and not giving in to those mournful puppy eyes whenever you have to go run an errand will pay off in the long run.

Getting Started

A few items that you’ll want to consider investing in before beginning this training are:

  • Treats
  • Food dispensing toys
  • Puzzle toys
  • A baby gate
  • A crate
These things can be used in tandem or you can pick and choose which work best for your puppy and your home situation. While some puppies may respond well to being out and about in the home while you’re gone, others might need a much smaller, contained area to relax and wait. Consider testing different methods as needed.

The Post-Exercise Method

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1
Have a regular schedule
Provide opportunities throughout the day and week for your pup to expend energy. Plan ahead for it as best as you can and ensure that he never goes without an outlet.
Step
2
Walk before you leave
Go for a walk an hour or two before you get ready to leave the home. Make sure it’s long enough for your puppy to get a good amount of exercise.
Step
3
Play plenty of games beforehand
Try playing fetch outside or practicing a sport like agility or rally obedience a few hours before you leave. Mix it up with a new outdoor game every day or every other day.
Step
4
Have a cool down period
After your physical activity, take some time indoors to cool down and rest with your puppy. Avoid walking out the door right after to let him shift into a rest mode before you leave.
Step
5
Keep the schedule as consistent as possible
Do your best to always offer opportunities for your puppy to run around or go for walks. A puppy that has consistent physical stimulation will be much more content to nap the day away while you step out.
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The Settle Down Method

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Reward for using the bed
Offer plenty of treats or toys to your puppy when he opts to use his bed when you’re home. The bed should be seen as a comfortable place that he can turn to for positive reinforcement when he needs it.
Step
2
Leave your dog alone at random
Place your puppy in a safe place in your home alone from time to time, even when you haven’t left. This will adjust him to being on his own whether you’re home or not.
Step
3
Make leaving and arriving uninteresting
Don’t offer a goodbye or rush to greet your puppy when you leave or come home. Your arrival and departure should be seen as a normal thing and not an exciting occasion.
Step
4
Give your dog a separate area
Use a separate room, a gated in space, or a crate to place your dog in when you’re gone. Keep it somewhere away from the front door to keep him from watching and waiting for your return.
Step
5
Use white noise
Use a fan or an air conditioner as white noise to provide comfort for your pup if your absence tends to leave things a little quiet. It can help him rest easy if he feels as though someone is home.
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The Activity Method

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Give your dog choices
Place multiple options in your puppy’s area such as a variety of toys for her to choose from while you’re gone.
Step
2
Provide mental stimulation
Use puzzle toys to keep her busy and occupied.
Step
3
Use a food dispenser for meals
Place treats inside of a Kong or other food dispenser which can keep your puppy active while also getting a meal in your absence.
Step
4
Leave the TV on
A TV or a radio may provide some sound to reassure your puppy that someone is home.
Step
5
Call a pet sitter
When all else fails, consider a pet sitting service that can come by to take your dog for a walk or take her out to play while you’re out.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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