One of the most arduous tasks that dog owners like you face is how to train their dog to stay home alone. This can be especially difficult if you have a puppy because they are more likely to be heavily dependent on you, as opposed to having an older dog.
Another thing that can make this task a little more challenging is if your dog has separation anxiety. Separation anxiety is a disorder that can be prevalent in any dog; however, some species are more susceptible than others.
If your dog has this disorder, this means that they demonstrate extreme anxiousness whenever they are separated from you.
Handling all of this can sound a bit overwhelming at first, so to ease your worry, we have come with a detailed guide that includes a step-by-step list on how to train your dog to stay home alone while helping your dog combat separation anxiety.
The Importance of Teaching Your Dog How to Be Alone
It is incredibly important to train your dog to stay home by themselves. If you do not take the time to properly train them, they can develop separation anxiety on their own.
When you prepare your dog to stay home alone they will be able to remain calm and confident when you do have to leave the house without them.
Still, many people believe that leaving their dogs in a crate and leaving them alone will be sufficient. However, this is extremely counterproductive, as this can not only harm your dog’s mental health but physical health as well.
This is especially harmful if you plan to be gone for more than 8 hours, as dogs are not supposed to be in their crate any longer than that.
How Long Will the Training Take?
The length of training varies depending on the age of your dog. For older dogs, it may only take a couple of weeks to get them fully accustomed to staying home alone.
However, when it comes to puppies, this can take up to a month as puppies will need you a lot more. Though if your dog has anxiety, this may take a lot longer.
Common Signs of Separation Anxiety in Dogs
It is vital that you are aware of some common indicators of dog separation anxiety, so you can determine if your dog suffers from this condition.
One indicator of dog separation anxiety would be constant pacing. Dogs will walk in specific patterns in an attempt to calm their nerves.
This may be a hard symptom to identify, as they will only exhibit this when you are gone.
This symptom will result in your dog going to extreme measures to try to get out of their environment. They might attempt to bite through doors and windows which can result in self-injury and a damaged environment.
This signal is a little more evident, as you can tell if your dog has any injuries or if there are any new damages to your interior.
One of the most profound signs of separation anxiety is destruction. Dogs will chew through furniture, claw at doors and windows, and even try to dig holes as a way to cope with their anxiety.
If you return home only to see the interior of your home ravaged, do not punish your dog, instead, try to give them comfort as they have little control over their anxiety.
Barking or Howling
Dogs who have separation anxiety will demonstrate barking or howling every time you leave them alone.
This can be hard to identify on your own as they will not do it in your presence. However, it would be a good idea to be extra attentive to any noise when you are getting home if you suspect that your dog has separation anxiety.
Urination and Defecation
This sign can be a little tricky to distinguish, especially if you have a puppy that is not potty trained.
Dogs with separation anxiety may urinate or defecate but would never do it in your presence. Thus, if your dog is exhibiting this sign around you, it probably is not an indicator of this disorder.
This symptom is a little less common than the others; nonetheless, it is still a possibility. Coprophagia happens when a dog defecates and then consumes it. This will not make your dog sick, but it is still not a good practice they should be participating in.
Dealing with Dog Separation Anxiety
Fortunately, there are a plethora of different ways that you can use to deal with separation anxiety in dogs. The tips below will help you deal with this behavior.
Confine Your Dog to a Large Space
Instead of putting your dog in a crate, or letting them roam around where they have the potential to be destructive, put them in a room that is filled with toys for them to distract themselves with.
Get a Dog-Sitter
A short-term fix would be to get a dog-sitter, so your dog is not completely alone when you have to be away. This would be especially ideal if you usually work long hours, or you are just not home very often.
Take Your Dog to Daycare
This is similar to the last suggestion; however, your dog will not only be surrounded by a guardian to look over them, but they will have other dogs to play with as well.
Anxiety Relief Supplements and Treats
If the problem is severe enough, you may want to talk to your veterinarian about investing in calming treats and supplements that will be able to help your dog cope while you are gone. Some veterinarian-approved treats include:
Zesty Paws Calming Bites: These Zesty Calming Bites are soft to chew and contain ingredients like Hemp, Chamomile, and L-theanine, which is great for making your dog calm and relaxed.
NaturVet Quiet Moments Calming Aid: The NaturVet Calming Moments are also soft to chew. Although, it contains Ginger and Melatonin which works just as great. This is an ideal product if you want to exclude the use of Hemp.
PetHonesty Calming Hemp Chews: The PetHonesty Chews are good for not only calming anxiety but motion sickness as well. This treat includes Chamomile, Passion Flower, L-tryptophan, and Hemp Oil.
Vetriscience Composure Calming Treats: Lastly is the Vetriscience Calming Treats that focuses on flavor and relaxation more than anything. It includes L-theanine and Thiamine, which work together to aid in relaxation.
Each of these treats contains specific herbs that are beneficial to combat anxiety. This is a better alternative if you do not want to resort to putting your dog on any medication.
Teaching Your Dog to Stay Home Alone
Now that we have addressed some background information, we can finally discuss some effective ways that you can use to train your dog to stay home alone.
1. Routinely Leaving
This is one of the most common methods dog owners use to train their dogs. It starts by leaving your dog for small periods at a time, then slowly increasing the periods you are away.
Do not give in to their whining, instead stay away for the full amount of time and reward them when you get back.
2. Prepare a Comfortable Environment
One way to ensure that your dog is comfortable and relaxed when you leave is to prepare an enjoyable environment that will help them feel more at ease.
This method works a lot better with puppies as opposed to older dogs. Some things that you can surround them with include:
A large variety of different toys for them to play and distract themselves with
A cozy bed that will make them feel more at home
Food puzzles are also a great idea as they will keep your dog completely engrossed while you are away
3. Giving Immediate Attention
This method has some similarities to the first one, but it still has noticeable distinctions. You will be leaving your dog in short intervals at a time, and when you get back you will have to be especially attentive and shower them with treats.
This method also requires that you and your dog sleep in separate rooms until your dog is fully accustomed to being without you.
Dog Breeds Prone to Separation Anxiety
As mentioned previously, there are specific dog breeds that are more prone to separation anxiety than others. If you have one of these breeds, it may be a good idea to pay extra attention to their behavior when it comes to you leaving them by themselves.
English Cocker Spaniel
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
German Shorthaired Pointer
Best Dogs for Staying Home Alone
Similarly, there are also some dog breeds that are accustomed to being on their own. Thus, if you have a busy lifestyle, then an investment in one of these dogs might be in your best interest.
The direct focus of this article was not just to educate you about how to train your dog to stay home alone but also about certain conditions that can make it more difficult to get your dog accustomed to being alone.
It is essential that you are patient with your dog, as dogs are naturally social animals and are not used to being isolated for a long period. If you have any additional remedies or practices that you use to help train your dog, please let us know in the comments.
Go ahead and share this article with family and friends that have pets and are struggling with similar issues.