Leaving your dog home alone for the first time
Here are my tips for leaving a dog home alone for the first time
1. Lots of exercise beforehand
Whenever anyone obtains a new dog, I recommend a long walk at least once a day, every day. Assuming the dog and owner are healthy and capable, this walk should be at least 45 minutes and preferably more than an hour.
Walking is a bonding ritual. It is something most dogs enjoy, and it helps them get comfortable with the new owner and a new routine. It also helps the dog get rid of any pent-up physical, mental and emotional energy. The calmer you can get your new dog, the better.
2. Take a day or two off from work
Most people know ahead of time if they will be getting a dog. If at all possibly, I recommend you bring home your new four legged friend when you can take at least two days off from work. That will give you some time to help your dog adjust to your routine before you have to leave for eight hours. If you can take a week off, even better.
During your days off from work, you should start leaving your dog home alone for short periods so he starts to get used to being alone in the new environment.
3. Begin leaving the dog alone for short periods.
It’s not a good idea to just leave the dog for eight hours right away. Start with just five minutes while you step outside to get the mail. Then try 10 minutes later that day. Then 20. And so on. Work up to 45 minutes. Then an hour.
4. Use puzzle-type toys such as Kongs.
Most new dog owners have been told about how helpful Kong-type toys can be, but here are some tips to make the Kong more interesting to the dog:
Cut back on the dog’s meals (or feed the meals in the Kong) so the dog will be more interested in it.
Use something really smelly and tempting to stuff the Kong such as cooked hamburger, canned dog food or peanut butter.
Freeze the Kong over night so the dog has to work harder to get the food out
Leave two or three Kongs to keep the dog entertained longer. Make one with food that’s really easy to get out and make the other two more difficult but with more tempting goodies (hot dogs, pieces of chicken, etc., with frozen peanut butter)
Stay calm yourself. If you are anxious, your dog will also feel anxious.
Don’t feel sorry for the dog. This dog is lucky to have a safe, warm place to stay.
Leave music or TV on for some background noise.
Stick to a routine. Leave the dog in the same place every time.
Don’t say “goodbye, Buddy!” Instead, ignore your dog and just leave.
Don’t expect perfection. There’s always an adjustment period that could take a few weeks. Don’t assume your dog has separation anxiety if he cries or whines. He may just be testing you or he may just be a little anxious in the new place. Ignore the whining and he’ll most likely adjust.