Training your dog to be left alone

Dogs looking sad because alone Learning to be left alone is an important part of your dog's training and will help prevent your dog from ever becoming anxious when they're left by themselves.

So if you've recently welcomed a dog or puppy into your family it's really important to show them that being left at home is nothing to worry about.

Read on to discover how to prepare your dog and teach them that it's ok to be left alone.

Preventing separation-related behaviour

Follow the simple steps below and gradually increase the time you leave your dog alone. Associate the experience with something pleasant (for example, treats and toys).

Remember every dog is different. Progress at a speed that suits your dog's reaction - and never extend this to the point that it becomes distressing for your dog.

Taking your time can produce better and more enduring results for your dog's learning.

Step 1

Begin by encouraging your dog to go to their bed and stay there for a short while with you present. Reward your dog for remaining quietly in their bed.

Step 2

Ask your dog to stay, while you move away. Return and reward. Do ensure your return isn't too exciting otherwise you may cause your dog to become excited in expectation of you coming back. 

Step 3

Continue this routine, moving progressively further away and for longer periods of time. The distance and length of time that you increase will depend on your dog. If your dog reacts or moves, don't reward them and never punish them - instead go back to the previous stage. We want them to remain relaxed throughout and not concerned by what you're doing. 

Step 4

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

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.

Top Tip

If you struggle to implement these steps, remember that you're doing your best and that it's okay - separation-related anxiety is a complex issue. When this is the case our advice is always to seek support from a clinical behaviourist.

How to treat existing separation-related behaviour

If you believe that your dog is already showing signs of separation-related anxiety, find out what you can do you help them cope better when left alone.

Treating separation anxiety

Relevant documents

Learning to be left alone (PDF 4.92MB)

#DogKind Being left alone (PDF 1MB)

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