Your puppy needs to feel relaxed and confident to be left by themselves. Teaching this while we're all staying home means they won’t struggle when everyone returns to school or work.
It’s normal for puppies to feel worried about being alone. Dogs are social animals after all.
So it's vital to teach your puppy that being separated from their family is okay.
If they don’t learn this, they're more likely to develop unwelcome behaviours, such as barking or destruction, when home alone later.
The first step is to show that it’s perfectly normal to be away from you in the house.
Use child gates, indoor kennels or play pens to establish short periods apart. It's best if these periods come after a play session and the puppy has been outside to toilet.
Some puppies manage this without any problems.
Others may worry about being separated even momentarily. If that's the case with your puppy, you'll need to do this slowly.
Top tips for teaching your puppy to cope alone:
- Make sure your puppy has a comfy bed or den, where they can relax in peace.
- Give them something fun to occupy them, such as a long-lasting treat or puzzle toy.
- While your puppy is enjoying their treat, take a couple of steps to the other side of the room. If your puppy stays where they are, wait a moment, then go back and reward them with an extra treat.
- Increase the distance you move away and the time you wait before returning with the extra treat.
- You should soon be able to leave the room and close the door or gate.
- Progress to spending more time in a different room. Build this into the daily routine.
- It's important that your puppy remains relaxed. If they show signs of distress, leave them for a shorter period, or don’t move as far away, next time.
Once you've mastered this, you can start to get them used to you leaving the house.
Begin by going outside the front door and returning straight away.
If pup stays relaxed, you can build up the time that you're outside.
This will leave them well-prepared when the time comes for you to return to work or school.
Find out more about preventing separation anxiety.