So you’re a new dog parent. You’ve done all the research, purchased the right food, and aced the potty training process (albeit, with a few accidents). Then before you know it, you’re hit with a new challenge—leaving your puppy home alone for the first time.
As a new dog parent, it’s natural to worry—but don’t worry too hard. Whether you’re headed to work or going out for a dinner date, we’ll walk you through our top six tips to ensure your puppy will be safe and sound while you’re away.
How Long Can I Leave My Puppy Alone?
Before we get into the tips, there’s one thing you should know—a puppy can’t be left alone for more than two hours at a time. Once your fur baby grows into an adult dog, he or she can stay home anywhere between four and six hours. Until then, you’ll want to make sure either you or someone else can stop by to check on your puppy.
The reason behind the two-hour time frame isn’t necessarily because of accidents, but rather because puppies can develop separation anxiety. Puppies are still growing, so prolonged time alone can result in anxiety issues. Try to put yourself in your puppy's paws—you are their whole world. So when you’re away for too long, it’s natural for them to get anxious. That being said, every dog is different and you must also consider his or her breed and health.
Now, let’s get into the tips.
1. Choose the Right Dog Breed
Some dog breeds are better at managing time alone than others. Surely you’ve done your research, but it is pertinent to understand your puppy’s characteristics.
Some breeds need more attention and socialization than others, which will directly affect the way your dog responds to time alone. A few dog breeds that best manage time alone include the French Bulldog, the Maltese, and the Basset Hound.
2. Training Your Puppy to Be Home Alone
You’ve been training your puppy since you brought him home—but the training doesn’t stop at potty breaks. From the moment you bring your new puppy home, you need to start teaching him that it’s okay to be home alone. That way, he’ll understand that he’s safe and secure and that you will always return.
One way to start training your puppy is by leaving the house and immediately coming back. This teaches him that being alone is normal. As time goes on, gradually increase your time outside—and don’t forget to give him a treat before you leave
3. Have a Routine
Just like humans, dogs are creatures of habit. Dogs need a consistent routine that they can rely on, such as when they can expect to be fed and exercised. Implementing a routine will not only help your dog feel more comfortable, but it will also give her the tools to handle any unexpected events that may come her way.
A routine can help your dog distribute her energy throughout the day. If your dog knows she’s going out for a run later, then she’ll be much less likely to be rambunctious while you’re away.
4. Exercise Is Key
A great way to regulate your dog’s at-home activity is to take him out for a walk before you go. If you’re leaving for work, make sure to get a good walk around the block in before you go. And if your puppy is still learning the ins and outs of proper waking etiquette, then this is an excellent time to practice.
As we’ve mentioned, every dog is different. You need to factor in your dog’s age, breed, and health to craft the right exercise schedule. However, it is agreed upon that dogs need exercise and mental stimulation to keep them from developing behavioral problems. Humans need regular exercise too, so walking your dog ensures that you and your pooch get your daily steps in
5. Get a Comfy Dog Bed
Who doesn’t love to lounge around in a soft, comfortable bed? Your dog certainly loves it. When you leave your dog home, the most important thing you can do is to create a safe and comfortable area to which she has unlimited access. This area should have food, water, toys, and an ultra-comfy doggie bed.
You should also dog-proof areas that are off-limits. As a new dog owner, you probably have a few baby gates already set up. These are perfect for blocking off any dog-free areas of your home. Consider covers for electrical outlets and power strips as well. You can also practice crate training, which acts as a safe, small place for your dog to go to during the day.
6. Keep Your Dog Entertained
A bored dog is an unhappy dog. Make sure you’re mentally stimulating your pup with fun toys to play with. Some great options include puzzles, food dispensers, and chew toys. Chew toys are excellent, especially if your puppy is still teething. The last thing you want to find is everything ripped to shreds the second you walk in the door.
Keeping the television on, playing classical music on repeat, and getting your dog a buddy can all help alleviate your dog’s boredom.
What Happens if I Work Long Hours?
Many of us have nine-to-five jobs. So what do you do if you have to work eight hours a day? If you have a long lunch and home isn’t too far away, you should make a stop at home to check on your dog. Otherwise, you can seek extra help in the form of dog walkers, doggie daycare, and pet sitters.
Whatever route you choose, you can take comfort in knowing that there is an animal-lover out there willing to help you and your puppy along.
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