How to get your puppy used to being home alone: Tips from a training expert

It’s tough to leave them when they look this cute (Picture: Getty Images)

While you can’t leave puppies alone for very long, you should be using this time to get them used to the idea of you not being around all the time.

It’s a lot easier to get them comfortable with you going out while they’re young, but don’t forget that this probably won’t come naturally to them.

Lorna Winter, director of the UK Dog Behaviour and Training Charter and co-founder and head of training at puppy training app Zigzag, tells us: ‘Dogs are social creatures and puppies don’t come pre-programmed to be comfortable with being on their own – this requires training.’

If you’re looking for tips on how to get that training done right, then look no further…

Go slowly

Again, puppies are just baby dogs, so leaving them alone for long periods isn’t going to work out.

‘Build in alone time slowly so that your puppy can learn to cope with being by themselves,’ recommends Lorna.

‘Start with very short durations to get your puppy used to the idea of you going in and out of the front door – minutes not hours.’

Try different things to keep them chill

What works for one pup might not necessarily work for another.

Lorna says: ‘Use different methods to help accustom your pup to being alone. This should be done from an early age.

‘This can be achieved through the use of food toys to keep them occupied while you are not in the room, or try moving from one room to another leaving them in familiar rooms of your home – where they are comfortable.

‘Classical music or specific dog lullabies can be used to help settle your puppy. You may also want to leave the TV on.’

Don’t just let them cry it out (Picture: Getty Images)

Use a camera if you’re stressing

If you’re concerned about what your pup might get up to while you’re out of sight, you can put a camera to use.

‘Use a camera and watch your puppy live on your phone to see how they are dealing with being alone,’ says Lorna.

‘Signs that they are feeling uneasy or stressed include barking, urinating and chewing on anything they can find.’

Make sure their needs are met before you go

You wouldn’t like it if someone locked you out of your loo and fridge before they left the house, and your pup probably won’t either.

Lorna instructs: ‘Make sure your puppy has had all of their needs met before you leave the house. This includes appropriate exercise, both mental and physical.

‘This is important to make sure your pup is relaxed when you leave.’

Never leave them to cry it out

Some people might think leaving them to cry is better for fear of reinforcing the behaviour, but that’s not actually how it works.

After all, you’re not reinforcing naughty behaviour, you’re providing comfort when they’re distressed.

‘Never leave your puppy to “cry it out”, says Lorna.

‘This almost never works and will cause problems in other areas of the pup’s emotional health and can lead to long-term behavioural issues.’

You’ll still need a sitter

Even if your pup has come on leaps and bounds with their training, you will not be able to leave them alone for hours on end – they’re simply too young.

Lorna says: ‘The best way is to slowly build this into their lives. However, in the meantime, if you’re going to be leaving your puppy to go to work, you’ll need a puppy sitter, dog walker or friend/family member to come and spend some time with them.’

Remember, you can always get professional help

If your pup is showing serious separation anxiety that you can’t make progress with on your own, you can get a trainer or behaviourist who specialises in Separation Anxiety involved to help.

‘They will be able to offer tailored advice for your household,’ says Lorna.

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