Understand Your Dog’s Attachment to You
We all know that dogs are incredibly social creatures and they always desire to be near their owners. This is completely natural and your dog always considers you his de facto leader. As such, leaving him alone can be so stressful and might lead to separation anxiety, which is a very complex dog disease.
But then again, it’s of great importance for your sake and his that he feels calm, confident, and content to spend time alone at home. This is crucial if both of you have to enjoy your gorgeous companionship to the fullest. After all, you have bills to pay, errands to run and you cannot take him with you everywhere you go.
So as much as your dog is so attached to you, you have to train him to stay alone so that he doesn’t get anxious or develop behavioral problems. The most important thing is to ensure that your pooch remains calm, confident, happy, and at ease when home alone.
Train Your Dog to be Alone
It’s crucial to train your dog to be alone as early as possible. There are instances where your dog will naturally desire his own space. Whether it’s in the form of a snug dog crate or some sort of a den, your dog needs a place where he gets some sort of comfort and security.
That being said, you should train your dog to be happy in his confinement area. You can throw in some chew toys to keep him engaged and then quietly walk out of the room. Return after a few minutes and reward him with praise and treat for staying calm and engaged. You can repeat the process and gradually increase how long you’re away each time.
You can start with being away for a minute or two and gradually increase the time each day. With time, you should start checking your dog periodically and reward him with low-key praise and a treat if they remain calm and quiet. You shouldn’t make much fuss when you check on them as you don’t want your dog to miss you when you leave the room.
You should also associate the confinement area with good things: things that make your pooch happy. In some cases, however, your dog may become a little emotional but do not make it a habit of letting them out when they fuss. This can teach them a bad habit that fussing and whining earns attention or opens the door. The best thing to do is to shorten his time in confinement to what he can handle while building the time more slowly.
The main idea here is to train your dog to be confident, relaxed, and self-assured when alone. Once your dog is calm, happy, and confident, you can start giving him access to your home from the confinement area. You, however, have to make sure that he understands potty training and the rules of good behavior.
Learn to Create Happy Associations
Leaving your dog alone at home with nothing to do or play with can be a recipe for disaster. You should at least give your four-legged bestie something to do whenever he’s alone. The main idea is to teach him to be happy on his own.
For example, a perfect activity is to give him a chew toy that’s stuffed with food. This can not only keep your dog stuffed but can also reinforce his chewing behavior. In the end, your dog will be happy to chomp on the chew toy rather than chew on door frames or your carpet.
You can also use TV or radio to provide company to your pooch. The noise that’s coming from the TV or radio can cover up other sounds such as the sound of garbage trucks or honking cars that might be more worrying to your dog. You should select the background noise carefully to ensure that it doesn’t increase your dog’s anxiety.
Prepare Your Dog before Heading Out
You shouldn’t be so busy or in a hurry that you fail or forget to give your dog adequate exercise or enough potty break before heading out. As such, it’s crucial to prepare your dog before heading out. Here’s what you can do.
Know Your Dog’s Bladder Control
Your dog’s bladder control has a huge influence on how often your dog needs a potty break. Of course, other factors such as hydration, age, and physical build can affect how often your dog needs a potty break. That being said, your pooch’s physical needs and what he’s used to can determine how long he can stay home alone.
It’s, therefore, important to set a routine for your dog that works for both of you. Just don’t try to let your dog outlast a potty break as things can get messy.
Tire Out Your Dog
The best thing to do before heading out is to ensure that your furry friend gets some exercise. You can take your dog for morning walks before leaving and he’ll likely fall asleep right afterward! This will not only give you the chance to leave without any issue but will ensure that your dog remains calm while you’re away.
Do Not Give Your Dog Free Reins
Even though it’s important to leave your dog in an area where he’ll feel most comfortable, you shouldn’t give him free reins. This is essential for his safety.
Avoid Leaving Temptations within Reach
Dogs are naturally explorative and may adopt their instinctive nature as a way of keeping themselves busy especially when left alone. Again, they seem to have a weird attraction to chewing electrical wires and this can be deadly. The best thing to do is to cover up these electrical wires.
In essence, do not leave your dog within reach of temptations. For example, do not leave him in an area where he can easily access the garbage can. You can also store medications and cleaning products out of his reach. The best thing is to have a selection of safe toys that the dog can play with to keep him busy and prevent him from getting bored.
Confine Your Dog if Necessary
If your dog is highly-anxious and feels more calm and relaxed when inside his crate or confinement area, then that’s the best thing to do. Just make sure that you do not confine him for longer than five hours at a time. Remember, how long your dog can stay home alone pretty much depends on the exercises and daily interactions he gets from you.
Don’t Stay Away for Too Long
Of course, you’ll have to run errands, go to work, and engage in other activities other than just staying at home with your lovely dog. The best thing to do is to ensure that you don’t stay away for too long. Simply put, you shouldn’t leave your dog alone for more than 8 hours.
Well, this is because most dogs have small bladders that can’t last for that long and you certainly do not want to find your home in a mess. You can consider easing your dog into being alone if he isn’t used to it. You can start by making quick trips to the grocery store then increase the hours gradually until he fully adapts.
Look for Somebody to Help
If you aren’t able to spend time at home with your dog and suspects that he’ll get more anxious once you leave, you can consider finding a dog sitter. He/she can help you keep the dog company while you run errands. You can either hire a professional pet sitter to watch after your dog or find a neighbor or a friend who can stay with your dog while you are away.
Do Not Give in to Your Dog’s Emotional Blackmail when You Return
Believe it or not, your dog can attempt to emotionally blackmail you by whining, crying, howling, or barking. Well, whatever he does, do not give in to his emotional blackmail by re-entering the room. When you come back, it’s important to wait until he’s quiet and calm to praise him for being calm.
More importantly, do not provide treats as soon as you return as this will make him more eager and anxious for you to come back home. Don’t make a fuss when you return. Stay calm and your lovely dog will follow suit.