How To Train Your Dog To Accept “Being Alone”

Exercise and obedience training go a long way in teaching your dog how that “alone time” is a necessary part of every dog/owner relationship.  This article explains the necessary elements to do it successfully with a new dog.

A common problem that occurs between dogs and owners comes from how the dog reacts to being left alone. In this type of situation, we have to keep in mind that our dog is a pack animal. He was not built to be on his own. The whole point of living in a pack is to be able to live as a group and work together, play together, hunt together, and raise puppies together. Every dog was made from this same mold. Being alone does not come naturally.

With proper care and training, we can help him adjust and accept staying alone for acceptable periods of time.  (It should be noted that dogs require companionship, just as we do–and to expect a dog to live his life otherwise is folly).

You need to be sympathetic and determined when training your dog to accept your necessary absences.

You will need to set up a crate or den area (some type of safe enclosure) for your dog and establish a permanent location for his water bowl and food dish, if he is older and being left outside of confinement. (Which I recommend only if the dog is 1.5 years-old, and has demonstrated responsible behavior for at least six months).

Give him safe toys to chew. Chewing will help him relieve his anxiety.  The Kong toys are great for this, as you can often smear a bit of cream cheese on the inside, and your dog will spend hours trying to lick it out.  Definitely serious business!

Your comings and goings during the first few days of acquiring your dog will help to communicate to him that you will come and go. Some puppies adjust easily while some will find this very difficult.  On this note, it is important to keep your dog in the crate at times, especially when you are home, so that he learns that the crate does not necessarily mean you are leaving.

Giving your dog something to do to keep him busy will help when he is left alone.  He should have safe things to chew. Another pet, such as another dog or a cat, will also help ward off lonely feelings. In addition, you can help him feel better by giving him a good exercise right before you leave. A tired dog is a happy dog, and strenuous exercise that adequately fits your dog’s exercise requirements will solve 80% of all behavior problems.

Doing obedience training before you leave for the day is important, too. Training exercises the mind as well as the body.  Some dogs that would otherwise need an hour of exercise will be exhausted after three five minute sessions.  (Obedience work should supplement physical exercise, which should be done after working obedience).

You can even leave the radio on while you are gone, too. Music and voices are a great comfort to a dog who has to spend the day alone.