Dogs are social animals. They don’t like it when you leave them alone. However, there are situations in which you cannot take your dog with you. Starting early will make it easy to avoid separation anxiety in dogs altogether.
Going to work, visiting the doctor, and shopping in midsummer temperatures occasions like this don’t allow you to take your dog with you.
Dogs take it as the end of the world when you leave them alone and they start to bark, howl, and dismantle the interior. But no need to worry we’ll give you a few simple tips on how to give the training to make your dog comfortable being alone.
Leave dogs alone? Why should dogs get used to the situation early?
There are times when you cannot take your dog with you on certain dates and locations because simply they are not wanted there. At other times, you have to leave your dog alone because the weather or your dog’s state of health does not allow that.
Imagine taking your dog with you in your car at temperatures above 20 degrees Celsius and being forced to leave your dog in the car for a certain period of time. At these temperatures, no open window helps either. The dog would get heatstroke and die miserably.
Under certain circumstances, your four-legged friend is definitely better off in your own house. This means that you will have to leave the dog alone unless you have a career for him.
Where to start?
During the entire time when your dogs are alone, they are under constant stress. They only come to rest again when the master or mistress is back home. This is of course an enormous burden for you and your dog.
Dogs are social animals and want to spend a lot of time with people. But they can easily spend a few hours alone but for that, you need a little training to make your dog comfortable being alone.
Of course, your dog won’t get used to it overnight. But with little patience and practice, it’s no longer a problem at all. Your dog can then stay alone for a few hours. Here are a few important steps to keep in mind while practicing.
Steps to take to avoid separation anxiety in dogs
To prepare your dog after the fourth or fifth month of their birth you can start adding small exercises in the apartment to show the dog that being alone is not bad.
For example, use the bedroom or bathroom to disappear for a few minutes without the dog. When you come back there is no extensive praise, petting, or romping for the dog. Just act as you’ve never been away. Separation anxiety in dogs is a lot about what a dog expects or is used to.
The natural following instinct
Puppies run after their humans until they are around six months old. When your puppy does that you will need to make the effort and move rooms frequently. At some point, the puppy gets tired and no longer feels like playing the chase games.
Young dogs vs. adult dogs
Young dogs learn just as quickly, but they have a mind of their own. With them, it took you some time to train and it can happen that they tear down your inventory out of sheer boredom and frustration when alone.
Adult ones don’t learn as quickly and need significantly more time to build trust in you and your new environment. Give them the time to end up walking for at least an hour.
Don’t make a fuss
Never distract your dog when you leave the room. If the puppy or the older dog remains relaxed in a room of your apartment without you, you can leave the dog alone by walking outside the front door.
In this case, use a moment when the dog is calm and relaxed. Go to your front door, close the door and wait a moment. Is he still in the room? Great! Now you can slowly expand the times.
Leaving the apartment and coming back should not be announced with welcoming rituals. Create a routine with which your four-legged friend can recognize that you are coming again. Ignoring your dog when you return home shows him that your behavior is normal and nothing special to get excited.
The dog whines, howls, and yaps?
Well, not so bad, back to the beginning. Go back into the apartment and ignore the dog. Do not be tempted to stroke the bouncing bundle and greet it. Otherwise, he will learn that you should pay special attention to him when he is howling and barking in desperation.
If everything works well up to this point and the dog remains calm and shows no signs of stress or destructiveness, you can slowly increase the times to leave the dog alone.
A little check up
While going for business, don’t leave alone your puppies and young dogs for too long. Adult dogs can go without you for up to five hours at a time and puppies can’t take this for too long.
If the dog is used to the closed dog crate and has accepted it as a place to sleep and rest, you can use it to train for being alone. Please do not leave your four-legged friend in a box for hours and make sure that it is big enough.
Leave the dog alone? Is it just a question of training?
This is where the views of scholars and experts differ. Usually, young dogs and puppies, in particular, can quickly get used to the fact that they can stay alone for a certain period of time. If an older four-legged friend comes into your family, the effort may be significantly higher.
When do things get complicated?
It gets really complicated with dogs who have had bad experiences with being alone in their lives and dogs who have come to believe that they have to take on the role of your protector.
These dogs are either dogs with separation anxiety or those who are not afraid of being alone but are afraid of losing control. To distinguish the two is not easy for the layman. Staying with them and leaving these dogs alone requires a lot of commitment and patience.
In extreme cases, the work of a sensible dog trainer is called for here.
How long can my dog stay alone?
It differs from dog to dog. Some four-legged friends are more independent than others. They can stay alone for several hours right from the start without any problems.
Others need to be close to their owners much more and do not like to be on their own. However, 4 to 5 hours should be feasible for every dog after some practice.
Dont’t leave for too long
In no case should your dog be alone for more than 8 hours at a time after this time at the latest, someone should check on him. After all, he needs food, fresh drinking water, and exercise. If your dog would be alone for a long time or overnight, you should move him to another place for a while.
When are you allowed to train your puppies to be alone?
Puppies learn quickly and adapt quickly to the environment of their new family. Still, you shouldn’t leave a puppy that has just moved into your home on its own for the first time.
He has just been separated from his siblings and his mother, the surroundings, the smells, and the noises are new for him and he doesn’t even know how to make a connection with you. However, you can train him later when he starts to get a little comfortable with all the new changes.
When taking in an older dog it might be hard to avoid separation anxiety in dogs. A dog may have had the experience in puppyhood, for example, from being separated from the mother too early.
Another variant occurs with animals from animal shelters. At some point, the dogs found out that their first owner, whom they bonded with, left without coming back ever.
The final variation on why a dog might have separation anxiety lies with you as the dog owner. If you have taught your dog early on, that he is praised, patted, and amused when he whines and howls, then he will use this misrepresented learning in his favor.
Fear of losing control
The same applies to the fear of losing control. The main reason here is wrongdoing and wrong training from the dog handler. If you let the dog take control and train inconsistently without clear management structures, the dog will find it difficult to abandon its behavior. So you have to start proper training of your dog as soon as possible.
How do you know if your dog is having problems with being alone?
If the dog feels uncomfortable and alone, it expresses this through a variety of sounds and activities. They show their displeasure by whining, yapping, and howling for hours.
In some cases, when you get home, they are completely off the mark. They can be sweaty, have a high body temperature, and lie in front of you totally exhausted.
Change in behavior
They jump on you, lick you from top to bottom, and don’t move an inch from your side in the apartment. This behavior is not good for any dog in the long run and your neighbors will complain if the dog makes its vocalizations for a large part of your absence.
Some dogs react with irrepressible destructive rage and dismantle everything they can get between their teeth and paws, from shoes, pillows to the door of the apartment. Believe it or not, you will not recognize your apartment with that appearance.
Disturbed sleep schedule and urination
If your dog pees in the apartment, this can also be a sign that he cannot stay alone.
When it comes to sleep some dogs simply do not sleep and wake up on time. According to most opinions, a dog should sleep at least 16 hours a day, you will then have a sleepless dog, which usually has an effect on everyday behavior.
Trust is good, control is better!
If at the end of your joint efforts, you are unsure whether you can leave your dog alone, you have various options to check this. Wait for a longer period of time within a range that you can hear whether the dog remains calm or not after you leave.
Ask the neighbors
You can ask the neighbors if the dog was making noises. You should also inform them that you are practicing leaving your dog alone and it can happen often. This approach will save you from some arguments.
Set up a camera
Set up a camera so that you can use to observe your dog’s behavior. Especially in stubborn cases and if you have to turn on a dog trainer, the camera can clearly show whether the dog is suffering from separation anxiety, boredom, or fear of losing control. There are now great devices with different functions, such as the Furbo dog camera.
Prepare a few things before leaving your dog alone
Make a few things prepared before leaving your furry friend for a few hours.
Go for a walk
It is best to go for a walk with your furry friend beforehand. So he can really work out and is much calmer afterward. Maybe he’ll sleep without you during that time. A busy, tired dog is more likely to accept short separation times.
In case he wants to poop, he should have the opportunity to go outside beforehand. Otherwise, he will not stay house-trained or be under stress.
Activities helps with separation anxiety in dogs
Things to make so that your dog doesn’t get bored, you can provide them with a special toy. Then it is also much easier for him to keep himself busy.
If he likes the toy and only gets it when he is alone, he associates time with something positive. Maybe he’ll even look forward to it in the end.
If your dog reacts to any outside noise, you can let the radio run quietly. This could calm him down and drown out other noises.
Build a doggy den or comfy bed
To make the later exercises for being alone easier for him, you can get him used to a special place to lie in a dog bed or crate from day one. It is best to provide him with a comfortable dog bed.
So he can relax alone or even sleep during the time. A suitable place to sleep helps a lot. Dogs learned to stay alone and sleep relaxed until their human is back.
There are also boarding houses that can take care of your furry friend if you have to go somewhere for a long time. When you come back, you should spend plenty of time with your dog.