Learning to be alone

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Your new puppy which has come home at 8 weeks old has never been on its own. It has always been in company, either with its litter mates, it’s mum or the breeder. A good breeder would have done some individual work with the puppy away from the litter mates however the puppy would have still had company.

 

You need to handle this sensitivity to ensure your puppy is growing in confidence. I like to introduce a phrase to develop your puppy’s awareness of what is happening.  The phrase I can like use is “Back in a minute”. By training your puppy what “back n a minute” means your puppy start to feel confident about being on their own for a short time and won’t feel the need to have to follow you everywhere and it is started by following these simple steps:

 

Step one:

  • Place a tasty filled Kong on your puppy's mat and place their mat on the other side of the room to you.

  • This way you are teaching your puppy to move away from you and have something yummy on their own.

  • Rather than you always moving away from your puppy.

 

Step two - Introduce a phrase:

• Wait for a time when puppy is relaxed and settled doing something and they are happily entertaining themselves. You are also relaxed in the same room as puppy

• Announce the phrase in a calm tone “Back in a minute”

• Pause

• Begin to get up from your seated position whilst watching for puppy’s reaction and then sit back down again.

• Wait a few minutes and repeat

• Repeat 5-10 times in 1 session at 3-5 minute intervals. Puppy may move on to

something new but don’t worry there will be plenty of opportunities.

 

You are looking for the puppy not to feel like they must leave what they are doing to follow you. If they do, then slow down a bit. The first few sessions you will be building up to standing upright and sitting down again and then build to taking a step towards the door, then 2 steps. Over the next few weeks you should be able to build up to leave the room and returning to find puppy is continuing with toy, chew or food puzzle.

As puppy’s understanding is developing over the first few days then I will begin to apply the phrase when your puppy is in their crate and/or pen when I am leaving them for a sleep. Some puppies will settle very quickly in the crate whereas others will take more time to feel comfortable with separation from you.

Step 3:

Once your puppy is happy to be left alone for a while start to prepare your puppy to your normal work life routine. While you are still at home with your puppy this is the perfect time to condition your puppy to your normal daily routine. Prepare some enrichment toys like a filled Kong, Snuffle Mat and a Liki mat. Place them in your puppy's pen. Then start to get ready for 'work'

  • Put your jacket on

  • Shoes on

  • Pick up your house keys, bag etc

  • Leave the house for 5 minutes

 

Slowly increase the time as the days go on. Ideally no more than 2hrs. If you have a dog cam then you can keep an eye on your pup while they are alone. 

 

Things to look our for:

  • Did you pup cry?  - Take note on how long

  • Did your pup interact with their food toys?

  • Did your pup fall asleep? If so how long did it take them to fall sleep?

 

Common questions:

 

How long can I leave my puppy home alone?

Four hours is the maxim time a puppy can be left home along at a time. If you are going to be out of the house for 8 hours then you will need to get a puppy sitter / dog waker to come in the middle of the day to break the day up for your puppy.

 

Can my puppy be in their crate for 4 hours?

Not until they are over 16 weeks of age and I would recommend leaving them in their puppy pen rather than closing them in their crate for that amount of time. This way your puppy can still have play, and stretch out.

 

When can my puppy be left alone in one room without the crate / pen?

Once your puppy is fully toilet trained and not still chewing all the furniture then it would be safe to leave your puppy in a puppy proofed room.