Most dogs love spending time with their owners. While some dogs are completely fine when left home alone, others need special training.
The best method for teaching your dog to be home alone is crate training. Crate training helps teach your dog that their crate is a comfortable place where they can be happy while you are away from the house.
This article will discuss the best way to teach your dog to be alone, which is crate training. We will then go over all of the steps that you should follow to crate train your dog. We will discuss what can happen to dogs that haven’t learned how to be home alone, and we will wrap up the article with some tips for teaching your dog to be home alone.
I have owned and loved dogs my entire life. I have had dogs that were easy to crate train and who did fine with being alone. I have also had dogs with extreme separation anxiety who needed medication to learn that being home alone isn’t scary. I have tried every method available for helping my dog become comfortable at home, and found success. I hope that this article can help you train your dog to be comfortable at home alone.
The Best Way To Teach Your Dog To Be Home Alone
Even though it is fun and beneficial for your dog to come with you on outings, there are some situations where you need to leave your dog at home. With everyone spending more time at home over the past year or so, our dogs have gotten used to our company and they may not know what to do when left home alone.
Teaching your dog how to behave while home alone is an important part of training. If your dog can successfully stay home alone without destroying anything, having an accident, or being distressed, then you will feel comfortable leaving them at home more often.
The best way to teach your dog to be home alone is through crate training. In the next section, we will tell you what crate training is, and tell you how you can complete this training with your dog.
How To Crate Train Your Dog
Crate training is an excellent technique for teaching your dog to be home alone. At the end of the crate training process, your dog should feel comfortable and happy to stay in the crate both at night and while you are away during the day.
The point of crate training is to give your dog a space that is completely theirs that they can use while you are not watching them. The crate should not be viewed as a punishment or cage, but as their personal space that gives them comfort.
The following are steps you can follow to ensure your dog becomes crate trained and comfortable being left home alone:
- Make The Crate Comfortable. Put a dog bed and some toys in the crate. This will encourage your dog to want to spend time in the crate.
- Introduce Your Dog To The Crate. Put your dog in the same room as the crate, but don’t force them in yet. Let them check it out on their own first.
- Feed Your Dog In The Crate. Move your dog’s bowls into the crate. This will help them associate happy feelings with the crate.
- Practice Leaving Your Dog In The Crate. Start by leaving your dog in the crate for short periods while you leave the room or house for a few minutes.
- Slowly Increase Time Spent In The Crate. Start to increase the time that you leave them in the crate once you are sure that they are comfortable there. Eventually, you will be able to leave them there for hours at a time.
- Let Them Use The Crate While You Are Home. Leave the crate open and available while you are home. The crate should be a comfortable place for your dog that they can use at any time.
What Happens When You Leave Your Dog Home Alone Without Training?
Many dog owners might see all of the steps involved in crate training and will decide that they won’t teach that to their dog. They might choose to leave their dog home alone and without a crate, or they will force their dog into their crate even if the dog isn’t comfortable with that. These actions can lead to significant behavioral issues that will frustrate you and your dog.
Even if crate training seems like a lot of work, it is an important part of being a responsible pet owner. The following sections detail some of the things that can happen when you don’t properly train your dog to be home alone.
When you leave your dog at home alone without proper training, they are likely to have a bathroom accident while you are gone. When you properly crate train your dog, they learn that the crate is their personal space. They are not likely to use the bathroom in a place that is theirs and that they have to stay in while you are gone. Therefore, most dogs learn fairly quickly to not use the bathroom in their crate or while they are home alone.
Dogs that are left alone without preparation or training are probably scared and anxious, which can lead to bathroom accidents. This is not good for your dog and will frustrate you at the same time. Save yourself the frustration and resentment by properly training your dog to be home alone.
Another thing that can happen when you leave your dog home alone without training is that they can be destructive. This is especially common in puppies, but can still happen with adult dogs. When you leave your dog home alone, they will likely get bored. If they are left out of a crate, this boredom can be solved by chewing - on shoes, furniture, or anything else that they can reach.
Even if you leave your dog in their crate, if they haven’t been properly crate trained, then they can still be destructive. Dogs have been known to destroy the bedding in their crate while they were left alone without training.
Finally, a common occurrence in dogs is separation anxiety. This is when dogs feel anxious and scared when left alone. This can be expressed by dogs in the form of bathroom accidents and destructive behavior that goes beyond general fear or boredom. Dogs that experience separation anxiety truly believe that their humans will never come home, so they do everything that they can to escape their crate or the home to go and find their human.
Separation anxiety can be hard to deal with. Crate training a dog with separation anxiety takes a lot of training and patience because they can’t be left alone in the crate for even a few minutes before they start freaking out.
The best ways to help your dog with separation anxiety are to implement crate training no matter how long it takes, and in some cases use medication. We will discuss medicating your dog for separation anxiety later on in this article.
Tips For Training Your Dog To Be Home Alone
Whether you are going to use the crate training method or something else, the following tips can help you make your dog more comfortable while at home alone.
Take Them Out Before You Leave
The most effective way to prevent bathroom accidents while you are away from home is to take your dog out right before you leave the house. By emptying their bladder, they are much less likely to use the bathroom at home, even if they are doing it out of fear rather than defiance.
By taking them to the bathroom and then immediately leaving, you are also creating a routine that they can easily learn and follow. They will come to expect to be left home alone after they are taken out at the same time every day. This can help them become more comfortable with being left home alone over time.
Make Sure Your Dog Gets Plenty of Exercise
Another important thing to remember when leaving your dog home alone regularly is to make sure that they get plenty of exercise. As we all return to the office, our dogs will go from having company and getting to play and go out frequently to being kept inside or in their crate for hours at a time.
Take your dog on frequent walks, let them run at the dog park every once in a while, and play with them regularly. This can help maintain your dog’s health and will help them be tired when they are left in the crate. If your dog is so tired that they sleep the entire time they are in the crate, then they don’t have time to have anxiety or be destructive.
Start Training As Soon As Possible
The best time to train your dog to be home alone is when they are a puppy. They can learn from a young age that their humans aren’t always near them and that that is okay. When you start this training when your dog is a puppy, you will generally have great success.
However, this is not always possible. There are plenty of adult dogs up for adoption who might not have this training. You can simply start training your dog to be alone as early as you can after adopting them. This might require some patience, but will be worth it in the end.
Try Different Toys and Treats as Distractions
One reason that dogs don’t do well when left home alone is that they are scared. A great way to help distract from their fears and worries is to leave them with fun treats and toys when they are home alone. This can work whether you leave them in a crate or not.
Many people like to use toys that hide food or treats in them. Some have a space where you can spread peanut butter and then your dog can spend time licking the peanut butter out of the toy. To make this treat last even longer, you can freeze the toy and the peanut butter.
Be sure to try different treats and toys until you find one that occupies your dog for long periods or makes them tired. You don’t necessarily need to entertain your dog for the entire time you are gone, especially if they are likely to sleep for most of the time that they are alone. If you can find a toy that gives your dog a lot of physical or mental stimulation, then they might sleep for most of the time you are gone.
Don’t Be Afraid To Try Medication
If you have tried everything and are still having issues leaving your dog home alone, it might be time to try medicating your dog. It is vitally important that you discuss this with your vet and receive a prescription from them for this kind of medication. Usually, the vet will prescribe an anti-anxiety medication. You will give this to your dog before you leave your home, and your dog will be calm and unable to get themselves worked up about being home alone.
You should always follow your vet’s instructions when using medication. Many people will find that they only need to medicate their dog once or twice before leaving, and then their dog is fine being home alone without medication. The dogs can realize that everything is okay when they are left home alone, so they no longer experience as much anxiety.
The goal of medication is to make your dog comfortable being home alone. You should not need to medicate your dog every time that you leave the house. If this is occurring, you may want to seek professional help training your dog to be home alone.
Some Recommend Adopting Another Dog
Finally, some people recommend adopting another dog. That way, your dog is never home alone and they have a friend to stay home with them. If you decide to do this, make sure that your newly adopted dog gets along with your first dog. You don’t want to leave them home alone together if there is potential for them to fight or hurt themselves.
You can try fostering other dogs until you are sure that your dog will do well with a sibling dog. The only downside to this method is that if your second dog also experiences separation anxiety, then you will have two dogs that need to be trained to be left home alone. Think carefully about this decision before adopting a friend for your anxious dog.
About THE AUTHOR
I have had dogs my whole life and have always trained my own dogs with patience and positive reinforcement. My dogs are my life. My family always had dogs growing up. I've trained dogs for clients while working at a local dog daycare. I hope that my research and experiences are helpful to you as I share them here.Read More About Russell Wright