4 Ways to Teach Your Dog to Be Independent

Photo by Eddie Galaxy from Pexels


At some point in their life, they need to be left alone as we can't always take them with us everywhere we go. Teaching our dogs to be independent is obvious when we adopt them but is very important. Independence doesn't mean that they can do whatever they like and be disobedient, but more that they'll be happy and confident enough to be separated from you.

Although it is tempting to spend most of your time with your pet, you aren't doing them any favors. Eventually, you'll leave them alone. And because dogs are social creatures, leaving them alone can be quite stressful for them. However, with patience, time, and effort, you can be sure that they remain calm and confident even if you're not around.

Why Dogs Can't Tolerate Being Left Alone

Certain dog breeds can’t tolerate being left alone such as Poodle, Chihuahua, Bichon Frise, French Bulldog, and Pomeranian. Some dogs can't be left alone because of their particular temperament. For example, if your pet hasn't undergone any obedience training, or they aren't used to being alone, it can get them upset when you leave them. It may even cause separation anxiety that if not taken care of immediately can cause serious problems to your pet's health.

Now that you know why dogs can't be left alone, here are some ways

Create a Safe Confinement Area

A safe confinement area such as a dog pen or crate is excellent for this purpose. Having their safe confinement area is a great way to keep them out of trouble while giving them a place to rest and relax.

If you are crate training your pet, make sure that your dog always has positive experiences with their crate. Leave the crate door open for them to enter at their own will. Put toys, foods, and treats inside to make it more inviting. Also make sure that your pen or crate is where you'll be in your dog's sight, at least until they become used to it.

Teach Them to Settle Down

Start by closing your dog or puppy in their safe confinement area then quietly walk out of the room. Return immediately and reward them with praise. At the beginning of this training, one or two minutes might feel too long for your pet, but they will get used to being left alone for long periods in a few days.

If they whine or cry when you leave you've likely started training before they associate the crate or pen with good things, or you've left them for too long. Do not make a habit of letting them out when they whine as it will teach them that whining opens the door and earns their attention. Instead, shorten their time in confinement to what they can handle. Increase the time slowly.

Make Happy Associations

Leaving your dog alone with nothing to do in their safe area can make your training pointless. Instead, give them something to do while they're in confinement. This will teach them to be happy on their own. One way to keep them busy is by giving them edible chews, leaving food hidden around the crate or confinement area, or providing puzzle toys. Don't put toys that can fit completely inside their mouth as it can cause choking hazards.

You can also turn on the radio or TV to provide the company. The noise can cover up outside noise that can cause them anxiety. In a recent study from Colorado State University, they found that music influenced the behavior of dogs in a shelter. 

Look for Help

IF you are unable to spend time with your pet, consider hiring a dog sitter to help work on their alone-time training. You can also ask for help from your neighbors, friends, or family members who might be happy to watch over your pet while they are in confinement.

When you have taught them to be independent, you can leave them alone for hours. But remember that 8 hours or more can be too much for them so you might want to consider hiring a dog walker to keep them occupied while you're out.

Once you've successfully done these tips, you'll be confident that you won't worry about them whining or having separation anxiety when you leave them alone. 

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