Top Tips for Successful Puppy ‘Alone Time’

As dogs are on the increase around the world, more people want to share their lives with their four-legged friends, and mainly to satisfy their own need of wanting a dog rather than looking on how their lives can accommodate a dog. You’ll know from reading my blogs or seeing my YouTube channel that I’m a great advocate of responsible dog ownership, this starts when you decide and think through having a dog in your life.

But people are working more than ever, with longer hours and in many cases both home owners are going out to work, leaving these much wanted dogs left at home, alone. Be sure to get a breed that isn’t known for wanting that close relationship 24-hrs a day if you do know you’ll be spending the working days out the house.

Being left alone isn’t ideal for a dog as they, like us humans, have a need to form social attachments. It's these social attachments that result in our rare and shared ability to develop those close relationships we so love in our lives with species other than our own.

Puppies need to learn gradually to deal with uncomfortable feelings that isolation creates. If you can help your puppy at early development stages to deal with this and other feelings of confusion you will help your puppy develop into adulthood able to problem solve and cope with many situations, not just the feelings of isolation.

The key thing to remember about leaving Puppy alone:

  • Take it slowly, gradually and carefully, so that Puppy adjusts in a kind and natural way.
  • Start as you mean to go on, so even on Puppy's first day in their new home you can leave for a couple of minutes with a suitable stuffed toy, then return without any announcement or talking, so not to make an event of your return.
  • Try your best to teach your puppy to enjoy their own company, to develop self confidence and to stand on their own four paws. Confinement areas will enable you to leave Puppy safe and free from harm. With their toys and comfy bed, Puppy can make a choice on how to spend their time other than being with you.

This is where a crate is a great addition to your puppy's environment. Read my blog on confinement areas for more help and advice.

Tops Tips for Alone Time

  • Remain consistent with all your methods whilst training puppy.
  • Look at having a confinement area, both long-term and short-term.
  • Get Puppy to love their quiet time by ensuring there are plenty of stuffed toys around to occupy them.
  • Associate a word to the process, even at the beginning when leaving Puppy for just a few minutes. That way in the future, even if you're not in your own home you can offer the word to reassure your puppy what is expected of them.
  • Always make the alone time a positive experience. Puppy needs to know being alone is fine and learn to combat their inner emotional uncomfortable feeling.

Top Tips When Leaving Home

  • Make sure you have a number of chew toys available, as you will have already been reinforcing a positive experience with all Puppy's chew toys whilst you’ve been around, in another room or leaving them in their confinement area. When alone, this continues to be a positive experience by association.
  • Put all the chew toys within the confinement area so Puppy really wants to get in there with the chew toys. You can then shut the door behind them. Whilst they happily run over to their chew toys and busy themselves, you can leave unnoticed.
  • Your puppy with have constant reinforcement of the alone time with each piece of kibble or treat that falls from the chew toy.

You can leave your puppy with complimentary therapy oils for behaviour modification, or dog appeasing pheromone that mimics the pheromones of a lactating female and is said to produce a feeling of well-being and reassurance for dogs, available in a spray form or plug in.

Sound therapy is a form of sensory education which is a new addition to behaviour modification and one I can personally recommend. I used to use the radio to help Rew settle, particularly when I left the house, so was really comforted to see the research gone into sensory education and its benefits. I was introduced to Psychoacoustic music by Lisa Spector who, along with Victoria Stilwell, reinforced a similarity of auditory cognition for both humans and canines, and developed ground-breaking music that is slow, classical and in a low frequency that is preferred by dogs. Rew loves his, as you can see in the picture below.

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