Many dogs struggle being left alone. It can be a very stressful thing for owners to deal with due to destructive behaviours or noise complaints, however, it can be done! You just need to react consistently and stay focused. This guide should help you on your way.

Learning to be left alone is an important part of your dog’s training and will help prevent your dog from becoming anxious when by themselves – also known as separation anxiety.

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 ok.

Cassie (right), adopted March 2020

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.

We hope our guide helps you on your way. If this method doesn’t work for you, or you’d like to talk to someone about your dog’s behaviour, please contact us. We have a team of volunteers trained to give advice and guidance to help you and your dog settle into your new life together.