6 - How-To Guides & Helpful Tips

Leaving Your Dog Home Alone While At Work

Whenever there is a new dog or puppy at home, it’s more than normal for us to want to spend all of our free time cuddling and playing with them. This time together is essential for bonding and strengthening our relationship with our pets. However, we all know it’s not always possible to be together with our pals. Many pet parents are able to work from home and balance their time with their pets at a different pace, but many others need to be absent for quite a while. So how do we make sure our pets are comfortable alone? Is there a secret trick to leaving your dog home alone while you’re at work?

Not quite! First and foremost, it takes time, teaching and patience. At first it can feel a bit stressful for both, but we prepared some tips to help you and your pooch be more comfortable when apart.

1) Building confidence

Knowing when and how to spend time with our pets is key to build their happiness and confidence. This means that for a happy and successful relationship with our dogs (puppies or adults), we need to learn to play with them, allow them to have time on their own, and teach them to feel confident – even when we are not at home.

Bonding will help to strengthen your relationship with your pooch, but you should also focus on strengthening their self-confidence. Puppy socialization can play an important role here too. Going through more stimuli and successful experiences increases the likelihood of a successful development. Nonetheless, it’s important to train our puppies/adult dogs to be on their own at home for adequate amounts of time.

How much time they can be left on their own depends on their age, size and health condition. In general, puppies should not be left without any supervision, as they’re more fragile and more likely to become anxious and distressed. However, training should begin at young age. Separation anxiety is something we want to avoid at all times, and one of the reasons why there needs to be training.

2) Teach them it’s okay to be alone

For many, leaving your dog home alone while you’re at work is an inevitability. So how do we train our pups to be okay without us? A very important rule – don’t stress about it. Showing that we are stressed can make our pets anxious, so take a deep breath, exhale and keep reading.

Remember that dogs are creatures of habit and they will pick up your daily routine very quickly.  The goal of training is to make them confident whenever you are around and when you are not, so think of teaching them to be on their own as something positive! If it helps, consider the training as a performance. You can start by practicing leaving and returning several times a day… Which consists of leaving the room or house for short periods of time and then returning as if nothing had happened.

Prepare yourself to exit the house, picking your keys and your belongings. Walk to the door and leave for a short period of time. If your pet gives you the puppy eyes or seems stressed, try to ignore it. We know it’s hard, but focus on the goal!

Once you go back in, act as if you did not leave at all. It may feel tempting, but do not greet or pet your pooch straight away! We want to keep things cool and casual, and greeting them will give the wrong idea. Remember, this is training, so focus and consistency are key. As soon as they are settled and quiet, you can then spoil them with cuddles and treats.

During this training process, gradually increase the amount of time they are left alone. Instead of 5 minutes, allow 15 min, and then 30 min, then try 1 hour and so on. This way, you will be able to understand how long your pooch tolerates being without you and assess their needs!

Ideally, we should not leave our dogs alone for over than 6-8 hours a day. If you need to be absent for longer periods of time, you should consider looking for dog sitters or asking a friend to spend some time with your dog.

Also noteworthy – before leaving your dog alone for longer periods of time, please consider taking them on a walk or tiring them out with some exercise, and allow them to have their toilet time. That way, it’s more likely for them to spend their alone time comfortably relaxing.

3) Safe spaces

Having safe spaces at home to where your dog can retreat and relax is fundamental for their well-being and will be a plus for training them to be on their own. These spaces should be quiet and comfortable for them, and often they’ll you give you signs of where they prefer to hang out and rest.

For many, these spaces can be a crate or a puppy bed on the floor. You can help to make these spaces more comfortable for them by leaving their favorite toy and some treats around. Fresh water should always be available at home, too.

Whenever you plan to leave them alone, you can guide them to these spaces and give them a reward, either by compliment or treat.

4) Happy associations

We want to create positive experiences for our puppies/adult dogs at all times. As mentioned above, whenever they are going to be on their own it can be helpful to go for a walk beforehand, leave them at comfortable spaces and provide them toys so that they can play and distract themselves while you are gone. But let’s face it… It’s likely that you’ll face some challenges when you first start to leave them alone for longer periods of time.

Maybe they’ll become anxious and vocal, or they may need to use the toilet and can’t hold it, or they may miss the designated area for that (if they are still using puppy pads), and so on.

Whenever these accidents happen, it’s very important to keep a positive mindset and attitude towards your pooch. Don’t punish them! It’s very likely they won’t understand why they’re being punished and it won’t avoid further accidents in the future.

5) Asking for help

Not all dogs are alike, and some pet parents may struggle more than others. Some dogs will accept being on their own quite well and won’t misbehave much or at all. At any time you think there may be a problem with your pooch not tolerating being left alone, you should seek further advice.

Separation anxiety is a common disorder that can affect poorly socialized and anxious pets. They become overly distressed and agitated, often pacing around, crying for hours, scratching the floors and walls, biting surfaces… And sometimes even cause self-injuries to their limbs and tail!

Thankfully, if you’re having trouble leaving your dog home alone while you’re at work, there are many therapeutic options that can be employed to tackle the issue. Talking to your veterinary doctor and training instructors may be the solution to guide your pooch in the right direction. And remember, our Maven vets are always here to help!

Maven is all about proactive pet care. Be your best friend’s best friend by giving them 24/7, high-quality, industry-leading vet care to improve their mental health, physical health and more. No more frantic googling or unneeded stressful visits to the vet – Maven helps you save hundreds while also ensuring your pet lives the best life possible. Get your kit now!

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