Step-by-Step: Teach your dog to stay home alone without fear

ChihuahuaWhen you bring a dog into your home, he becomes part of the family, or in dog language, he joins the pack. Because he is a member of the pack, your pup likes to be with you all the time rather than staying home alone. Of course, that is not always possible, but with some practice, it is possible to teach your dog to stay home alone. It is very important that you pay attention to this, otherwise, the puppy may develop anxiety. This may cause a new problem, because a dog with separation anxiety might not become house trained, or will bark and howl when you are away. Chewing and destructive behavior may also be a response to anxiety. How well a dog can be alone or how well he can learn this, depends on the nature of the dog. If the puppy is very young, the crate is a safe and familiar place to learn to be alone. The first time you stay away for about 5 minutes,
it is important that you wait until the pup is quiet. He could go whining and it is possible that he associates your return with his whining. Obviously, you do not want your dog to develop negative attention! Greet your pup to show that you will always return and let him out of the crate. If it goes well make it 10 minutes…

I always trained my older puppies to stay alone at home with a step by step plan. The first time I left my pup on his own was for only 15 minutes to see how he would react. The kitchen was a good place to start, not too big and easy to clean up. Next time I tried it for about 30-45 minutes. Most of the times it went well, just a short time of howling and a very happy dog when I came back. After a few weeks, my dog could stay alone for a longer period without any problem. Of course, I asked my neighbors if my dog did not bark a lot while I was away.

One of my Chihuahuas did not howl or bark but he started to tear up my magazines or chew on cardboard boxes when I went away for more than half an hour. I used a great tip on how to solve this habit. Every time I wanted to go out I showed my dog a special jar with doggie treats in it. While telling him he would get a treat when I was coming back, I placed the jar on a cupboard where he could see it. Again it is a step by step process; leave the house for 10 minutes, come back praise your dog and give a treat. Try 20 minutes, 40 minutes… and so on. After a little while, my Chihuahua did not need those extra treats anymore.

Never punish your dog for destructive or other unwanted behavior he did while you were gone, he will associate your home coming with punishment and thus develop anxiety.

Give your dog entertaining toys like a Kong Wobbler or Activity Toy, these toys can be filled with treats so your dog does not get bored. By concentrating on getting hold of the
goodies he has less time worrying about the fact that he is alone!

Even though your dog gets used to staying home alone,  I would do this for no more than four hours. Every dog needs attention and a regular walk! If you cannot do it because you have to work all day, ask a friend, a neighbor or hire a professional dog walker to give your dog attention.

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