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 your dog from ever becoming anxious when by themselves - also known as separation anxiety.

So if you have 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 alone...

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, praise). Remember every dog is different. 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

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.

Step 3

Continue this routine, moving progressively further away and for longer periods of time. The distance and length of time that you increase on occasion 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.

Step 4

Progress the training and start exiting 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 are 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.

How to treat separation anxiety that has already manifested

If you believe your dog is already showing signs of separation 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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