Dog Training

What to Do When Leaving Your Dog Home Alone: Tips & Tricks

As much as you enjoy being with your dog, you can't take them with you everywhere. There will be times when you'll have your pet on their own. This, of course, brings about some consequences: they bark, howl and tear apart everything they see. This is why it's vital to learn how to prevent this situation when leaving your dog home alone.

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During the entire time that your dog is alone, they are under constant stress. They only come to rest again when their owner is back home.

It's no wonder this situation is an enormous burden for both of you. But that does not have to be the case: 

Dogs are social animals and want to spend a lot of time with people. Despite this fact, they can easily spend a few by themselves.

This requires a little training, though. Naturally, it's impossible to ask your pet to get used to it overnight. Nevertheless, with patience and practice, leaving your dog home alone won't be a problem anymore!

Here are a few important tips to keep in mind while practicing.

Leaving your dog alone

Start as Early as Possible

Puppy Paw Sleeps

You should start training as early as possible. If your dog's a puppy, get on with it right away! 

Show them that staying alone is normal. It is not bad to be alone for a short time. That way, you won't have issues when leaving your dog home alone later on. 

It becomes much more difficult to teach this to older dogs that are used to your presence. However, it's not impossible.. 

The training is the same for both puppies and adults. The only downside is that it's going to take longer, and you'll have to be more consistent. 

Take note whether you'll be leaving your dog home alone in the near future. 

You should start training your dog's separation anxiety as soon as possible if this the case. Every now and then, leave your pet alone for a short time and then come back. Your pet will eventually learn that they can't be around you 24/7.

You can also get them used to interacting with other people at an early age. If you are away for several days, make acquaintances and relatives check up on your dog.

What to Do When Leaving Your Dog Home Alone

Puppy games slippers

Give your pet time for themselves from time to time. If you are with always with them in one room, they'll follow you like your shadow. They don't know any better.

Leaving your dog home alone will confuse them immensely. To avoid this, avoid your dog and leave them be once in a while.

If your pet runs after you, you can make them wait in a room. This works best with the 'stay' command. If they obey, you can reward them afterwards.

Gradually get your dog used to being alone in a room. 

Leave the room for a few seconds and close the door behind you. Shortly after, go back inside. If your dog was quiet during this time, praise them for it. They deserve it!

Over time, you can increase the amount of time your dog is alone. However, make sure to prolong these sessions accordingly. 

Making huge leaps in their alone time will only stress them, which makes the training useless. They should learn that being alone is not a bad thing.

If your dog is already used to being alone in one room, it's time to step up. Leave your home for several minutes. This, of course, is more challenging for your pet. 

Regardless, they have to get used to it. Stay away for a short time at first and then come back. If this also works without problems, you can gradually increase the time periods.

It's important that no one stays with your dog during the training sessions. The idea is to let them be.

Do not, under any circumstances, go back to your pet when they bark or whine. This would only show them that whining works. 

As a result, your pet will do it every time now and never learn. Even if it's hard for you: you have to stay consistent.

Do not say goodbye to your dog with too much emotion. That would be too exciting for them and would only complicate their alone time. 

To avoid your dog jumping on people every time they're left alone, don't greet them differently from usual. Leaving your dog home alone is normal and nothing to be sad about.

Don't practice with your pet at regular intervals. It should be unexpected for him. Because, later on, they must also be ready to be alone for a few hours at any time.

Separation Anxiety in Adult Dogs

Puppy housetrained

Some dogs need the closeness of their owners rather strongly. If yours didn't get used to being alone as a puppy, they probably have separation anxiety ingrained in them. 

If the above exercises don't work and your pet just won't stop whining, you should try the following tips.

Sometimes your dog already recognizes when you're leaving through small signals. They are able to pick certain hints. For instance, putting on a jacket and shoes, or taking keys tell them you're leaving. 

As such, your pet associates these actions with something. Thus, they get stressed even before your departure.

To avoid this, you should get ready to go out occasionally without actually leaving the house.

When your pet realizes you're not leaving your dog home alone, these actions won't stress them anymore.

After this, practice how to get them used to being alone. It's essential to make the first sessions very short. 

Prolong their alone time little by little: over-stress will only result in a relapse. Even if this takes too much time, this is the only way to get your dog used to staying home alone.

If you want, you can also leave behind a camera to record what they do while you're away. That way, you can control what they do during that time. 

Maybe your dog's only sad for the first few minutes and then goes to sleep bored. By recording their reactions, you can see the fruits of your training.

Make Your Home Comfortable

There are some arrangements you need to do, first. Your dog has to be able to cover their needs, after all. 

In case they have to do their business, they should have the possibility to go outside before. Otherwise, they won't stay still nor calm.

It is best to go for a walk before leaving your dog home alone. Working out will tire your pet out and, as a result, will make them remain clam after your departure. 

Maybe they will sleep without you during that time. In any case, your dog won't mind not moving so much for a while.

What's more, you can leave behind a toy for your pet to play with. They can get busy with it and will have an easier time being alone. 

If your dog like playing with toys, they will associate their time alone with a fun activity. They might even end up looking forward to spending time on their own.

If your dog reacts to any noise from outside, you can turn on the radio on leave it on low volume. This might calm them and drown out other noises.

Finally, set up comfortable dog bed. It's important for them to be able to sleep or relaxing when alone. Additionally, cuddling with their favorite toy assures them to no end.

How Long Can My Dog Stay Alone?

This varies from dog to dog. Some are more independent than others. 

They can stay alone for several hours from the beginning without issue. Others need to be close to their owners much more urgently and do not like to be on their own. 

However, 4 to 5 hours should be doable for any dog. After some practica, that is.

Don't ever leave your dog alone for more than 8 hours at a time. Get someone to look for them if you can't avoid this. Pets heavily rely on humans for their needs.

If you're leaving your dog home alone for many hours, leave them with someone else. 

Maybe relatives or acquaintances can take him in. Alternatively, there are also dog boarding kennels. They can take care of your dog while you're out.

When you come back, you should spend ample time with your pet. Catch up the time you weren't with them. Your dog missed you greatly!

My Conclusion

Dogs are social animals and need a lot of attention from us. Nevertheless, they can get used to staying home alone for a few hours. 

Even if it seems hopeless at first: with a little practice, leaving your dog home won't an issue.

It is important that you start practicing as early as possible. Then your dog will also quickly realize that they don't have to be glued to you.

Gradually leave them alone for longer and longer periods of time. If you find a good rhythm and don't overdo it, your pet will get used to it over time.

If they stay calm without you, reward them. Remember to remain composed when you're leaving and when you're back. If not, your dog will pick up on that will get excited in return. 

However, your goal is to make it something normal for him. Therefore, you should not pay more attention to him than usual when you leave him alone.

You can give your pet something to do while they're alone. A fun toy or something to nibble are good options.

As a result, your pet will associate being alone with something positive. They might even like it!

With patience and consistency, leaving your dog home alone is perfectly doable. Follow our guide and see for yourself!

Written by Anja Boecker
Written by Anja Boecker

My name is Anja Boecker and I am a dog trainer and behavior consultant (IHK certificate). With these articles I would like to help you understand your dog better and build an inseparable bond.

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