Puppy Advice

Training dogs to be left alone

All dogs love company and can get anxious when left alone. However, you can train your dog to be left alone. Here’s what you need to know.

Dalmatian dog at home alone resting on bed

How long can you leave a dog alone?

A common question that dog owners ask is how long can a dog be left alone? Puppies cannot cope with being left alone and need someone to be with them all the time in the early months. As dogs are social animals they don’t like to be on their own for long and can easily become anxious. This is called separation anxiety.

With adult dogs, it is not recommended to leave them alone for more than four hours. However, it takes time and patience to train a dog to build-up to the point where they can be left for this amount of time.

If you work, you may want to consider using a dog walker, a dog sitter or taking your dog to doggy day care. This means that your dog will have company during the day and you’ll have peace of mind that your dog isn’t feeling anxious or bored at home. 

How to train a dog to be alone in the house

Leaving your dog alone at home for the first time will be hard for you and them. Build up to this gradually so that your dog gets used to being apart from you.

Before you try leaving your dog alone at home, start by helping them to get used to you not being in the same room in the house. This should be for short amounts to begin with, gradually increasing the time as your dog adjusts to being away from you. Choose times when your puppy is more likely to be relaxed, and make sure they have had enough physical and mental exercise and have been to the toilet before being left. Give them an interactive feeding toy – a Kong or a puzzle feeder – to enjoy before settling down for a nice nap.

Remember, practice and patience are key. Spending time to train a dog to be left alone is much easier than treating a dog with separation anxiety.

Why do dogs tear things up when left alone?

Quite often dog owners don’t realise that their dog is feeling anxious when home alone. The most common signs that your dog is feeling unhappy when alone in the house, includes:

  • Barking and howling – if you are away from the house you may not be aware that your dog is barking or howling, but your neighbours will!
  • Chewing and destroying items in the house, including furniture
  • Weeing or pooing in the house 

Unfortunately, once a dog develops separation-related behaviours it can often require the help of a professional dog behaviourist for help. You can prevent problems by training your dog to be left alone.

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