You may think that once you get a puppy you shouldn’t leave them on their own until adulthood.
And though many people perhaps leave their pups alone for too long in the early days, it’s actually advised to leave him alone for short periods of time from Day One.
Dogs have a ‘socialisation period’ of 12-14 weeks tops. This is when you should try to introduce them to as many different experiences as possible. Think about things they’ll come into contact with in the real world.
The idea is to get them familiar with the different sounds, smells, movement, textures and places he may experience within this timeframe when they’re naturally inquisitive and curious, rather than wary and nervous.
- Washing machines
- Doors opening and closing
- Car engines
- Other animals…
Think about the different environments too:
- Tiled floor
- Carpeted floor
- Hardwood floor
And about different types of people:
- Older people
- Male and female
- Someone wearing sunglasses
- Someone wearing a hat
- Someone with a beard
- Someone with a moustache
- Someone with a hood up
- Someone with long hair
- Someone with short hair
- A person in a wheelchair
- A baby and toddler In a buggy
- Someone walking with a stick
These introductions before the 14 week mark will mean they’re less likely to be nervous when meeting or seeing or hearing that situation again in the future, and thereby raising a well adjusted pooch 🐶
So going back to leaving your little one on his own, you’ll want to do it from Day One to avoid separation anxiety developing, though this doesn’t mean you necessarily have to leave the house.
The easiest way to leave him on his own is by having a crate or den already setup in your home.
Let them know this is their safe space. Make it somewhere they want to be. And think about having ‘crate/den-only toys’ inside. You could also try playing music or putting the TV or radio on when he is alone, and giving him a kong or a puzzle toy to keep him entertained.
Then, leave him there. On his own.
Head into another room (where he can’t hear you) for five minutes, increasing this time as he gets used to your absence. Then try leaving the house entirely, even if only to go into the garden or to the end of your street and back.
When leaving, don’t make a big fuss. Don’t make him think that you ‘leaving’ is a big deal. Just quietly walk away and close the door.
And when you come back, again, don’t make a fuss.
If he’s in a crate, open the door and back off. Wait for him to calm down a little and then give him a cuddle or a treat.
And remember to get other members of the house involved so he doesn’t become too dependent on you – unless you live alone, of course. But in this instance, having a couple of friends or family members pop round regularly and you backing off during that time will result in the same benefit.
Okay, so now that you know the importance of alone time, you want to make sure you don’t want to overdo it either.
How long can a puppy be left alone?
Well all pups are different. Breed, age, health, background will all play a part, but as a general rule:
- < 10 weeks: 1 hour
- 10-12 weeks: 2 hours
- 3 months: 3 hours
- 4 months: 4 hours
- 5 months: 5 hours
- 6 months: 6 hours
- Over 6 months: Maximum 6-8 hours
But even though, technically, a six-month old pup can be left on his own for 6 hours, it’s not really very fair on him. And trust me, you won’t want to leave your 10 week old pup on his own for 1 hour because you’ll come back to a puddle on the floor or worse!
Dogs are social animals. They thrive on social interaction. So if you are planning to leave him on his own for upward of four hours (once they’re over 4 months old, though in my opinion, really it shouldn’t be until they’re over 6-9 months) consider getting a friend or family member to pop in, or a dog walker or enrolling him in puppy daycare.
Getting the balance right is key – alone time so they don’t become anxious when you’re gone, but plenty of social time to tap into their social nature.
And this balance will help you raise a healthy, happy pup.