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How To Train A Puppy To Be Alone

Jack Russell terrier puppy looking up out of a group of puppies at the camera overhead

This is a common situation. Many dog owners find that they will have to be at work for at least 40 hours each week. That means that their dog will have to be alone for that amount of time, along with any commuting time that is a part of the work schedule.

What this common situation tells you is that you have to train your puppy to be alone. It is not a fun situation, and you may not think it is fair but think of what you would lose if you did not have your puppy.

To train your puppy to be happy and alone, may take a safe space and some treats as a reward.

Click here to learn 6 Critical Tips for Potty Training Puppy at Night.

How Long Does It Take For A Puppy To Get Used To Being Alone?

Each dog is different. What will work for one dog may not work for another, even though they are in the same dog breed. Puppies need constant care, and due to their developing body systems, they should not be left alone for long periods of time.

It will take time for puppies to feel comfortable being home alone for 8 hours. The amount of time they can be alone depends a lot on their age. Here is one schedule from the AKC that gives you an idea of what to do:

  • Under 10 weeks: 1 hour
  • 10-12 weeks: 2 hours
  • 3 months: 3 hours
  • 4 months: 4 hours
  • 5 months: 5 hours
  • 6 months: 6 hours
  • Over 6 months: Maximum 6-8 hours

As long as you train them well, your puppy should not feel bad when you leave them to go to work. It will take some patience, as well as a few dog treats, to get them to think that being alone is okay.

Need to know When to Potty Train a Puppy? Click here to find out.

Will My Puppy Ever Be Okay Alone?

Basenji puppy being held by a woman with red hair

Yes, they will but do not expect that attitude to appear in the first week after you have brought them home. It will take time for the puppy to adjust, and at about the 6-month mark is when they can be left alone for up to 8 hours.

This is the nature of the dog’s life. They can adjust to many different situations, or at least most can. Some dogs will get angry and tear up the home while you are out, but those are not all or even a majority of dogs.

If they are trained well, the older dogs can adjust well and handle being alone all day. One way to help them adjust and get used to being alone would be to provide your pet with different toys.

You would want a nice range of toys, from those that hide treats to those your dog can simply chew on to pass the time. If you prepare your dog right, then your pet may get to the point they would not want you around; just kidding, of course.

Part of preparing them to be alone would be to puppy-proof your home. Baby gates work well in keeping your dog out of certain rooms. Lay down some potty pads in case of accidents, and move valuable objects out of their reach.

Do what you can to make your dog feel comfortable while you are away but do not leave temptation there to entice them to be destructive.

Puppy keeping you awake at night? Click here to learn How to Sleep Train a Puppy.

Do Puppies Grow Out Of Separation Anxiety?

Cocker spaniel puppy with its head in a person's hand

Generally no, most dogs do not outgrow separation anxiety. It can get worse if you do not treat it properly but rarely do dogs with this problem ever get free of it on their own.

You are going to have to be involved to some point and train your dog that it is okay to be separated from you. You can try crate training them, as this provides your puppy with a safe place to be.

Then do not leave your puppy alone for the first few weeks. Leaving him or her alone during this time may only increase their anxiety. Then take your time in training them to be alone.

Do this training in small increments and then increase those absent gaps in larger increments. You can’t rush this training. Then, use positive reinforcement over punishment if your dog does something wrong while you are away.

Finally, do not make a big deal out of their being home when you come back. This celebration only reinforces their feeling of anxiety and may make it worse.

Some Final Words

Jack Russell terrier puppy laying on tile floors in the sunshine

It is hard for a dog to be alone as they like being with their masters. Unfortunately, life does not let us be with our dogs all the time. That means you have to take the time to do some of the hard training so your dog will get comfortable being alone.

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