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Leaving a Puppy Alone at Home for the First Time: How to Prepare

While dogs make fantastic companions, you can't spend all your time with them. Eventually, you'll have to leave them to go to work, appointments, and run errands. Our Central Illinois vets offer some insight into how to make it easier to leave your puppy at home alone for the first time - and what not to do. 

Leaving Your Puppy at Home

You'll eventually need to leave your pet at home by themselves. This is not just necessary but good for both you. Your pup will need to learn how to function independently of their owner, and you need to maintain a life that's not solely based on catering to your canine companion's desires. 

The goal is not to create anxiety in either yourself or your dog when you are first separated. In this post, we'll share some tips on how to make leaving your dog alone a calmer experience for all. 

When Can I Leave My Puppy Alone at Home?

Since puppies are similar to children, calling a puppy by the popular term 'fur baby' is not that far off. Our vets are often asked, 'Can I leave my 8-week-old puppy home alone?'. 

We recommend that 8-week-old puppies not be left alone for an extended period. They are still very young, have just been weaned and will need regular feedings and potty breaks. Wait until they are at least 3 months before you leave your puppy alone. 

Advice to Prepare Your Puppy for Being Left Alone 

  • Have some time alone. Take some time where you aren't focusing on your puppy so they can adapt to not having your attention all the time. This may be as simple as shutting the door when you take your shower or not acknowledging them while reading a magazine. 
  • If your puppy cries when left alone, shorten their time in their confinement area to what they can handle, and gradually build the length of time they are there more slowly. 
  • House train your dog. There's nothing worse than coming home to a mess at the end of a long day because your dog has destroyed things in an attempt to deal with their anxiety. 
  • Set up a space for your puppy where they can access their water, food, bed and toys. Having the necessities of life in easy access removes a lot of stress.
  • Puppy-proof all spaces your dog will have access to while you are away. You might want to baby-gate them in or keep them in one room
  • Have your puppy meet other people. This means if you need to take them to a sitter or have someone check in on them they are less stressed.
  • We do not recommend leaving a puppy outside during the day for an extended period of time. While dogs may spend short amounts of supervised time outside if they've had their vaccinations, they should not be left unattended as they can easily become lost, eat harmful or toxic objects or get into things they shouldn't.

Leaving Them Alone for the First Time

  • Start small. Go out by yourself and take a walk around the neighborhood and gradually increase the length of your outings
  • Do not make a production out of leaving. Leave calmly. If you are calm your dog has a better chance of being calm.
  • Return Calmly. If you don't make a scene about coming home your dog will be more likely to be able to treat your coming and going as routine resulting in a calmer dog.
  • Leave some clothes you have worn so they have your scent. Dog have great sense of smell and can be comforted by familiar scents.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Do you have questions about leaving your dog alone for the first time? Contact the vets at Pekin Veterinary Clinic.

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