Learning to be home
Some dogs are okay without people, but many will suffer from
social isolation. Loneliness is not a pleasant experience on a daily
basis, but the stress can also accumulate over time and can make
your dog ill. Plan ways to teach your dog that he will be home alone
Dogs normally do most fussing immediately after being left alone.
The average pup will usually only fuss for 5-10 minutes. Try leaving
a piece of old worn clothing having your smell, with your dog. This
comforts many pups (ensure your clothing is safe such as a t-shirt).
When you start to train your puppy to be used to being alone, set up
your pup's space as you would if you were leaving for a long period
(restricted area, access to water, toilet area, home alone toys
etc). Try to perform this ritual a couple times every day: walk out
of the room, return within half a minute and let your pup out.
(don't do this while the pup is fussing.) Repeat this 6-10 times in
a row, varying the length of time randomly from 15 seconds to 2-3
minutes. Each time,return and free your pup, do so without any
reward or special behaviour. Make it a calm, regular thing. This
will start to desensitise your pup in terms of immediate
reaction to you leaving, and will teach him that you always come
back. Jangling keys, and other common sounds/acts that go with
leaving can also be rehearsed in this way throughout the day. Try
putting on your shoes, going outside, closing the door, and then
return immediately or within 30 seconds. Normally, these things only
happen when you are actually leaving, so the pup knows they precede
loneliness. But by repeating these actions often, and not leaving,
the pup no longer identifies them as guarantees that you are going
to be gone. These calm arrivals and departures are to try to make
separation less dramatic.
When you go out, leave without any fuss around the pup. Give a
happy, "Good-bye" and just go. The longer the pup is expecting you
to go and waiting for you to leave, the more likely they are to find it difficult. Keep your arrivals and departures as calm as possible.
Leave your pup with plenty of things to do whilst you are away.
Refer to the environmental enrichment tips found on this site. Try
leaving a radio on or a tape recording of normal house sounds to
play whilst you are out.
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