When you get a puppy, you want to spend as much time as possible playing with them, cuddling them and getting to know your new friend. So naturally, when it comes to leaving them on their own for the first time, it can be hard for both pet and owner. In this article, James Wellbeloved offer advice on how to leave your puppy alone for the first time and how long they can be left alone for.
How long can you leave a puppy alone?
As very social animals, dogs don’t like being apart from their companions. It is therefore important to reassure your dog that it’s not the end of the world if you leave the house for a few hours. This is a gradual process of adjustment that you will need to start working on from when your dog is a puppy.
Puppies require a lot of attention and exercise, so leaving a puppy alone for longer than two hours a day is not advised. Not only is this unfair on your puppy, but it also risks them developing separation anxiety, a condition that can be difficult to treat as your dog gets older. Plus, puppies’ small bladders mean that they need plenty of toilet trips, so leaving them alone risks accidents occurring.
How to leave a puppy alone
Being left alone for the first time will be an unusual experience for your puppy, so don’t expect them to adjust straight away. To get your puppy used to your absence, you can practice leaving the house for short periods of time once they are a bit older. Gradually increase the time you are out and monitor how your puppy reacts when you leave and when you return.
When you come home, try to avoid making a fuss of your puppy. You need to make the routine as calm as possible to communicate to your dog that leaving and coming home is a normal part of the day, and not a special occasion.
Restricting the areas of the house your puppy has access to while you’re out, as well as tiring them out with some exercise before you leave, should help make leaving the house easier. You can also leave some chew-friendly toys or puzzle treat toys, which should help keep them entertained when you’re not there.
How long can you leave a dog alone?
If your puppy adjusts well to being on their own, adult dogs can be left for longer periods of time; however, it’s best not to stay out more than a few hours. Pet owners have a responsibility to provide love and care to their animals, so regularly leaving a dog alone for long periods isn’t fair on them.
Signs of separation anxiety
Some dogs find it harder than others to be left alone and may develop separation anxiety. The following are some common signs of separation anxiety:
- Howling or barking
- Destructive behaviour such as chewing or scratching
- Urinating or defecating inside the house
- Attempting to escape
However, bear in mind that the above can also be signs of other conditions or behavioural problems. If you are concerned about your puppy or dog, ask a vet or a behavioural specialist for advice.