Teach Fido That It’s OK To Stay Home Alone
Occasionally, you may find yourself in need of leaving your dog at home alone. But, you can’t do this without first teaching your pup that it's OK to stay home alone.
In fact, leaving your dog alone for long periods can make him anxious or stressed, especially if he is yet to learn how to enjoy his own company.
Teaching your pet some tricks, such as chewing or playing with stuffed chew toys and amusing himself with other objects of interest can greatly benefit him.
Fortunately, it is not difficult to raise your dog on such skills.
Be aware that your dog is naturally a social animal. Your pooch may need some time to adapt to staying in solitary confinement.
What if you want to train your dog quickly but without going through the trial and errors that a beginner is likely to face?
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Going solo with your dog training
The first step to take is to try making quiet moments a part of your dog’s daily routine.
Give him a chew toy and allow him to settle with it. You can also encourage him/her to sit beside you and stay quiet for extended periods of time.
If you are training an adult pup, you can’t train with too many rules. You have to be relaxed and flexible in your approach. For instance, if you are watching or reading something, you can have him sit down quietly in a crate, but allow him breaks in short periods to play.
Teach your pup how to respond to play and settle down
You can start to teach your dog how to respond to play time and quiet period by using simple phrases like “let’s play” and “settle down”.
Start by letting your pup sit for a few seconds and then instruct him to play for a few seconds.
Gradually increase his play time to a few minutes and break it up with short resting periods by saying the word settle down to him and gesturing with your hand what he should do. The rest period should be longer than the play period
Try this for at least a week. Initially, your dog might not follow through with your cues or respond well to instructions. After a lot of practice, your dog should be familiar with the words ‘’let’s play’’ and ‘’settle down’’.
Once he has learnt to take cues and be quiet when told, you will be able to take your pup on a visit to the pub, take it on a lot of walks and even on picnics.
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If your dog has been trained to play indiscriminately and enjoy undisturbed freedom when he is still young, such behavior will go with it to adulthood.
You need to set up a confinement schedule for your dog when you are at home. This will help to prepare it to stay alone when you are out.
Don’t give him unrestricted access when you are at home.
Doing so will make him overly dependent and this could make him anxious when you are away from home.
You need to cultivate a feeling of self confidence in your dog – teach him to enjoy his own company and be relaxed and when you have successfully done this, your dog will not only be learning how to stay at home alone, he will also enjoy his time whether you are present or not.
Try to get a dog crate for him, which will make a small confinement area.
Then, take him to a separate room from where you are. Occasionally check on him to see how he is coping in the other room. You can also place him in his crate in the kitchen while you are eating in the dining room.
You should also create a bigger confinement area for him. You can use a room for this or a storage area that is stuffed with pet toys.
The advantage of creating a confinement is that you will be able to monitor how your dog reacts when you are absent. Visit him at irregular intervals and reward him if he is quiet and calm. For more tips, check out our article on crate training a new puppy.
You can use sterilized dog bones and any other indestructible and hollow-shaped toys specifically designed for pet chewing.
Stuff them with treats that can fall out of the toys when chewed.
Your dog will associate being alone with this and will quickly learn to enjoy his treats in your absence. You can also try leaving a radio playing for reassurance.
The advantage of doing all these is to not only eliminate separation anxiety, but to also allow you a sneak peek at what it would be like if you leave your dog at home.
When leaving home
Leave enough chew toys stuffed with treats. You can use an indestructible bone and put stuff like freeze-dried liver in it.
Regularly do this when you are leaving home. Make sure to place your dog in his play room and make him see his chew toys.
As soon as your dog learns there is reward for playing with his toys and staying home alone, you will be developing a confident dog.
When returning home
Don’t acknowledge your dog when you get home, reward him if he is well behaved. This should delight your dog.
Most dogs are not daytime animals. Their period of peak activity is during down and dusk.
Thus, the period you are absent is likely to be chewing activity for your dog. When you stuff the chew toys with treats while going out and offering the unexpected treat when you return you are conditioning your dog to go after chew-toys during its peak activity.
One effective method of keeping your pet home alone is to give him good morning exercise. The intensity and type of exercise will depend on your dog’s age, state of health, body type and most importantly, weather.
Ideal exercises include trotting, sniffing, and off leash running. At the end of the exercise, your dog should be tired and be ready to snooze.