Training your dog to be left alone

Dogs like company © RSPCA

Learning to be left alone is an important part of your dog's training and will help prevent them from becoming anxious when they're by themselves (also known as separation anxiety).

If you've recently welcomed a dog or puppy into your family, it's really important to teach them that being left at home is fun! Read on to discover how to teach your dog it's ok to be left on their own...

Preventing separation-related behaviour

Follow the simple steps below and gradually increase the time you leave your dog alone. Associate the training experience with something pleasant (for example, treats, toys or praise). Remember, every dog is different. You'll need to progress at a speed that suits your dog's reaction - and never extend the training to the point that it becomes distressing for your dog.

Step 1 - stay in bed

Begin by encouraging your dog to go to their bed and stay there for a short while with you in the room with them. Reward your dog for staying quietly in their bed.

Step 2 - move away

Ask your dog to stay, while you move away. Return and reward.

Step 3 - increase the distance and length of time

Continue this routine, moving progressively further away and for longer periods of time. The distance and length of time you increase by will depend on your dog. If your dog reacts or moves, don't reward them - but never punish them. Instead, go back to the previous stage.

Step 4 - leave the room

Progress the training and start leaving the room before returning. Next, go out and shut the door behind you before staying outside for longer periods of time. Once at this point, start to vary the length of time that you're out.

Step 5 - try longer periods

Once you reach the stage where your dog is happy to be left for up to an hour, there should be no problems leaving them for longer periods.

How to treat separation anxiety that has already manifested

If you believe your dog is already showing signs of separation anxiety, read our guide to what you can do to help them cope better when left alone.

Relevant documents

Learning to be left alone (PDF 4.92MB)

#DogKind Being left alone (PDF 1MB)

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