There is nothing quite like the smell of a new puppy 🙂 It’s tempting to spend every waking moment with your new friend, but you won’t be doing your puppy any favors if you do because sooner or later you’ll have to leave them on their own. Because dogs are such incredibly social creatures, training them to spend time alone will relieve a lot of future stress for both of you.
Start by teaching your pup to be alone while you are in the house. Use a crate or exercise pen to safely confine them. You can also limit your puppy to small areas of the house using baby gates. If used properly, your puppy will consider these spaces as a place to relax and not as punishment.
Create positive associations; for instance, you can use this space for meal time. Set aside high value toys only used in this space. If large enough, you can spend time playing there. When your puppy happily enters the confined area on their own, you’re ready to start alone-time training.
Begin by closing your puppy in the confined area with a chew or puzzle toy then quietly walk out of sight. Return immediately and reward with lots of praise and a treat. Repeat the process, slowly increasing how long you’re out of sight. Initially, even one or two minutes might feel too long for your puppy, but over a few days you should be able to build up to longer periods.
If your puppy is crying in their confinement area, don’t get into the habit of letting them out when they complain. Otherwise, you will teach them that crying and carrying on gets rewarded with getting out. As an alternative, shorten puppy’s time in the confined area to what they can handle, and build on that more slowly.
Using confinement as a training tool is only a temporary measure while you work on your puppy’s alone time instruction. Once your puppy is confident on their own, potty trained and understands proper behavior, you can start giving them more access to your home while you’re out. Your goal is to have an adult dog that is relaxed, self-assured, and can be trusted with more freedom.