It's important to start getting your puppy used to being alone as soon as possible. Bringing a puppy or new dog home is an exciting time for a family. Therefore, it's normal for you to want to spend as much time as possible with your new furry family member. However, doing so can create separation anxiety when you finally have to leave your puppy alone for the first time.
Due to COVID-19, many of us have been at home more than normal. But as restrictions ease, our routines are starting to change. We're going out more and some people are even heading back to work. This change in routine can be stressful for your puppy. Especially if all they have known since they arrived is being around you 24/7.
So how can you prepare your puppy for being alone or being around strangers? Here are some things you can start doing now.
Get your puppy used to being alone
It's a good idea to have a sectioned off area or crate for your puppy. This prevents them from wandering freely around the home and accidentally ingesting something dangerous and from following you everywhere. While it may seem cute to allow your puppy to follow you everywhere, it can quickly develop into co-dependency and separation anxiety when you are gone. Therefore, your puppy needs to learn to be comfortable with being alone even if you are at home.
Start leaving your puppy alone for a few minutes at a time while you are at home. This can be as simple as placing them in their crate or play pen while you go to a different room of the house or step outside to collect your mail. Before leaving, ensure they have a chew or some toys to keep them busy. Additionally, each time you leave and return, do it calmly and without any fuss. This teaches your puppy that your departure and arrival is no big deal. Slowly build up to longer periods of time.
If your dog finds this too stressful, stop the exercise and begin the process again in a few days. Your dog must learn that being alone is nothing to be afraid of and that it’s not a punishment for any problematic behaviour.
Get your puppy used to new people and environments
Sometimes separation anxiety doesn’t only mean that your puppy cannot be left alone; in some cases, they may not even bear to be a part from you. When left with someone new, your dog may become anxious and unsettled. Therefore, while they are young, bring them to as many new places and allow them to be around as many different types of people as possible. They don't necessarily have to interact, they just need to be able to observe and take it all in. The more you socialise them, the more confident they will be at adapting to new situations in the future. Consider also booking them into doggy day care once in a while to get them used to being away from you.
Teach your puppy to entertain themselves
Make sure that your puppy is both tired and content before leaving them alone. Go for a long walk or play a short game of tug or fetch to burn off some excess energy beforehand. Then provide your dog with long lasting chews and food puzzles. You can stuff your Raw and Fresh treats into Kong toys or scatter them around the room. Give these to your puppy before you leave to help them form a positive association with your departure. This keeps your dog entertained and also stimulates them mentally while they are alone.
Practice routine to prevent separation anxiety
Even if you are not going back to the office yet, it's time to start practising the routine so that it won't be such a shock to your puppy when the time comes. If you plan to walk your puppy in the morning before work, start doing that now. Then get ready to leave the house for a short period of time just like you would do if you were going to work.
If your dog is following you all around the house while you are getting ready to leave, and fretting, give them something else to do instead. Offer a long lasting chew and place them in their crate or in a separate room. Then leave the house without any fuss.
Use a dog sitter
If you will be away for long periods of time, consider hiring a dog sitter to drop in and check up on your puppy or book your puppy into doggy daycare. This helps break up the day and also gives your puppy an opportunity to socialise with different types of people. It is advisable to gradually introduce your dog to your dog sitter as it will help them adjust better. Start by meeting your dog sitter before the booking. If you are booking doggy daycare or dog boarding, visit the place and allow your dog to wander around and get familiar with the environment. Make sure you are patient and allow your puppy to explore and engage with the dog sitter when they are ready. Don't force them to meet someone new if they are not ready.
Find and book an experienced pet sitter through our friends at Pawshake.
Pawshake connects pet parents with loving and affordable pet carers. All the pet sitters on Pawshake have been individually vetted, are genuine pet lovers and will care for your pet in a loving home environment. So if you are planning on heading back to work or travelling but can't take your puppy with you, search for a Pawshake pet sitter near you.