Teach Fido That It’s OK To Stay Home Alone
Occasionally you may find yourself in need of leaving your pup at home by alone. But, you can’t do this without first attempting to teach your dog to stay home alone.
In fact, leaving your dog alone for long periods of time can make him anxious and stressed - especially if he hasn’t learned to enjoy his own company as of yet. Below are some tips for teaching fido to stay home alone.
Teach Your Dog to Stay Home Alone
The first step when starting to teach your dog to stay home alone is making quiet moments a part of your dog’s daily routine. You can accomplish this by encouraging him to sit beside you quietly (with his favorite chew toy) for extended periods of time.
However, if you are training an adult pup, you may not want to 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 his crate, but allow him short breaks 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.
Note: 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. However, 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.
Create a Schedule
We recommend setting 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.
Note: Don’t give your dog 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.
Cultivate a feeling of self confidence in your dog
Teach your dog to enjoy his own company and be relaxed. 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.
Make a small confinement area with a dog crate
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.
Note: If you don't have a dog crate, you can use a room for this or a storage area that is stuffed with pet toys.
The advantage of creating a confinement area 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 dawn 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 how to teach your dog to stay home alone is to give him a 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.