When you first bring your new puppy home, you’ll probably want to spend every waking moment with him.¬†Everything he does is cute and even the not-so-cute things are quickly forgiven when you gaze into those soulful puppy eyes. But soon enough, reality sets in and you realize that you will have to leave your puppy at home alone.

Leaving Your Puppy in a Crate

If you’ve learned about crate training, leaving the puppy alone for a short time in the crate is easy enough. But what about when you need to leave for longer periods of time and don’t want to leave him confined in the crate? With some training and patience, it’s possible to do just that without coming back to a home that looks like a tornado ripped through it.

First of all, make sure you crate train your puppy. It’s something good not just for the human, but for the dog. With proper crate training, your puppy learns how to be calm and quiet in his own special “den,” viewing it as a good thing, not a punishment.

It’s never too early begin training your dog good behavior and obedience. Laying a good foundation of training, coupled with plenty of TLC is key to being able to leave your dog alone without having to worry about him destroying your home or suffering from separation anxiety.

With proper training, especially crate training, your dog learns to be alone without becoming distressed, learns to amuse himself with acceptable toys, and remains confident that you will return. When the time comes to leave the puppy alone in the house outside of the crate, you will still want to limit where the puppy
can roam.

When Your Leave Your Puppy Alone at Home

Ideally, you’ll want to block off one room or a section of a room. You can use baby gates or portable metal gates designed specifically for this purpose. Make sure you puppy-proof any area you leave him in. Don’t leave unsafe items on the floor, make sure electrical cords are out of reach, tucked away, or taped to the baseboard or wall.

I don’t suggest leaving the puppy alone outside of the crate until he is potty trained, but if you are going to paper train your puppy, you will want to lay down newspapers on the floor in case of accidents. He should have already eaten his meal and done all his potties before being left alone, and again, depending on his age and ability to control his potty, you may want to limit his water intake as well. You want to encourage him to be successful at being alone out of the crate.

If he is having difficulty with his potty training, continue with the crate training and do not leave him alone for long periods of time.
Make sure he is comfortable and has a nice bed to rest on, and some toys, especially chew toys. Many dog owners like the Kong toys because they are very durable and you can stuff them with treats so the dog has to work to get the reward.

If you can, try to spend some time before you leave, walking the puppy and playing with him. This will tire him out and he will likely spend a good chunk of time sleeping after you leave. You can also leave a radio or tv on to keep the puppy company.

Just as in crate training, you want your puppy to accept being in an area you designate as his without crying, whining, or barking. Don’t let him out of the area when he cries because it only reinforces his crying.
Instead, say firmly, “no” or “quiet” and walk away. Praise him when he is quietly accepting where he is and let him out only when he is quiet.

When you leave the house, don’t make a big production out of it. Spend a few minutes ignoring the dog before you leave . The same goes for when you return. It’s hard to resist a puppy that runs toward you with a joyful bark and a wagging tail, but you must! Ignore your puppy for a time after you come home and only let him out of his confined space when he his calm.

You might want to do several “dry runs” before you actually leave your dog alone. You can set it up exactly as if you’re leaving, then just get out of sight of the dog. You can increase the time you “leave” your dog so he gets accustomed to it.

Although it might be time-consuming and an inconvenience, you, or or your dogwalker, must come let the puppy outside for a potty break. Young dogs can’t hold off going to the bathroom all day. The rule is that a puppy can only hold his potty for the same number of hours as his age in months.

So a 3 month old puppy can hold it for 3 hours, a 4 month old for 4 hours, etc. At about 6 to 8 months your dog should be able to hold his potty for an entire night. During the day it is different though, and each dog is different. You need to be aware of your puppy’s potty habits.

After a while, your dog should get used to the routine of taking potty breaks in the morning before you leave, once during the afternoon, in the evening when you come home, and once again before bed. When your dog grows to be an adult, he should be able to hold off going to the bathroom for about 8 hours.

If you want to be successful at leaving your dog home alone out of his crate, make sure they are potty trained, puppy prooof the area, and don’t give them too much freedom too soon. As he grows older and can definitely go longer without potty breaks, you can increase the area you allow him to roam.

Eventually, you may be able to give him free reign of the home. Remember that like any training, you must be patient and go at a pace that your puppy can handle. Never move too quickly because of impatience. As your dog becomes an adult, all the training time you put in earlier will pay off.

He will be able to stay at home alone without anxiety, and you get to come back to a home just as you left it.

A lot of what I just talked about can be found in Quick and Easy Puppy Potty Training.

Filed under: Puppy Potty Training Tips

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