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When leaving a puppy alone at home for the first time, one can get so stressed about the whole situation. You go back and forth as to whether you should do it or wonder if you can.

The reality is leaving a puppy alone at home for the first time isn’t always under your control. Your work situation may have changed from remote to in-person so you find yourself in the difficult situation of leaving a puppy alone while at work. Or you may have a relative or a friend that needs your help – and for some reason or another, you can’t bring your puppy. Sure it would be nice to not have things come up that need your undivided attention but life doesn’t always work out that way.

As a pet care professional, I wanted to share my vetted tips so you feel better prepared for leaving your puppy alone at home for the first time. Knowing how to make this work before the situation arises will make a huge difference for you and your puppy.

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Top 20 Tips for Leaving a Puppy Alone at Home for the First Time

1. Start by Leaving Your Puppy Alone While You Are Home

A big way to help yourself as a puppy parent is to start working on short intervals where your puppy is all by himself/herself (e.g in a crate, or another safe area) while you are still at home.

Try intervals of one to five minutes and see how that goes before increasing the time. This will let you hear your puppy without him/her seeing you and get valuable information on how he/she acts (such as whining or barking) while alone.

Make sure you do not talk to your puppy when he/she is barking as you do not want to reinforce that behavior. The whining is the way your puppy communicates feeling stressed as this is new to him/her. That is why you want to keep it short and positive.

2. Start with Short Periods of Time When You Are Actually Gone

This can be as easy as walking out the front door for a couple of minutes and building up to longer periods of time.

Make sure when you leave that you have everything on you because if you forget something and need to come back in the house, this is going to make your puppy think you are back and there to stay for good, when in fact that is not what you are trying to do.

You can set a timer on your phone and keep adding more time to it as you go along. Grabbing your keys and other things you would take with you as well is another way to show your puppy that you are leaving.

3. Make Sure the Place You Decide to Leave Your Puppy Is Safe and Comfortable

Puppies are very smart and resourceful. What you might think is secure and safe might not be safe and secure at all.

If you use a crate, a playpen, or another place in your home make sure it is secure and your puppy cannot escape from it. I like using locks on them in addition to what comes with a crate or playpen. You can never be too careful.

It may seem easy enough to leave a blanket or dog bed but your puppy may just chew it up. I am all about keeping your puppy comfortable but expecting some destruction is a reality to expect too.

You can try putting a blanket or dog bed in the crate or playpen you use (or another secure area) while you are home to see what happens. It is not a bad thing to learn your puppy chewed up what you left behind.

Something else to keep in mind with a playpen is whether or not to use a reusable pee pad under it. I know this could seem like an easier way to clean up an accident for your puppy and not have it on your floor.

I can understand using this type of pad but just keep in mind that your puppy could chew that up as well!

4. Puppy Proof Your Home

Make sure you check your house every day even if you are not leaving your puppy alone for the first time because you might be surprised by what your puppy could find if he/she is not in a playpen or crate. Shoes, cords, clothes, paper, pens, books, notepads, food, and plants are just some of the things to be aware of, and to remove/relocate in your house when it comes to your puppy.

Also, even if you have your puppy in a safe place make sure you notice if anyone has left something nearby like shoes, cords, or anything else that your puppy would be interested in chewing up. It seems easy enough for us as humans to not think about them as appealing but your puppy may have other plans.

A simple check around your house will save you time, destruction, and an unplanned veterinary visit and bill with your puppy.

5. Use Positive Reinforcement Training

This can be as easy as praising and giving a treat or toy to your puppy for doing well for being by themselves.

You can work on making things positive with your puppy when he/she is in the crate or not in your view if you are home and saying “Great job!” for example to let them know you like the fact that they are not barking and can be by themselves.

The great thing about positive reinforcement is it teaches your puppy that what they are doing is awesome and to keep doing it because it gives them the attention, treats, and praise they want from you.

6. Create a Routine

Having a routine your puppy is used to when it comes to feeding, going to the bathroom, exercising, as well as playtime is essential. Another part of that routine is getting your puppy used to being alone too.

Working on alone time when you are at home will help with transitioning your puppy from having your attention to being okay without it as a normal part of his/her daily routine. This gives you a chance to introduce alone time for your puppy as short and not a big deal.

You can be in another room away from your puppy and add a little more alone time each day and see how it goes.

7. Provide Plenty of Exercise for Your Puppy

Making sure your puppy gets plenty of exercise not only helps with all the puppy energy he/she can have throughout the day and tire them out but also helps to have alone time go smoothly too.

Trying to move an excited puppy to a crate or another location for alone time can be more challenging and that will not help in making this easy for both of you.

This is why depending on your puppy’s age, playtime and other things like going for walks can help you bond as well as get the puppy energy out while making daily routines go smoothly.

8. Leave Some Toys and Chews Around

It’s best to try this when you are around to make sure your puppy is safe and does not destroy the toys and chews you leave. Also, choosing the right type of toy is more of the focus here than chews.

There are food toys that can give your puppy something to work on using their brain as well as physically with their paws and mouth. Here are some toy ideas to try out with your puppy:

Kong – This is a nice way to put some of the food your puppy eats and something else that could be appealing and freeze it. It gives your puppy a positive association when you leave as something good happens. Also, trying to figure out how to get the food out of the kong will give your puppy another challenge.

OurPets IQ Treat Ball Interactive Food Dispensing Dog Toy , Assorted Colors – This is another option to use with kibble or treats with your puppy and keep him/her busy when you leave.

Dispensing Dog Toy Puzzle – Interactive Chew Toys for Dogs – Dog Toy for Moderate Chewers, Fetch, Catch – Holds Kibble, Treats, Small 3″, Aqua Blue – This another toy that you can put kibble, treats, or other healthy options to freeze for your puppy.

These are just a few of the toys to try with your puppy to see which one works the best. Chews for puppies can seem like another great option but again you want to make sure you are there to supervise your puppy. You want to also choose something that is natural and large enough so your puppy cannot choke on it.

If you are unsure then ask your veterinarian about what they would recommend for chews to give your puppy.

Showing how a puppy can lay down.

9. Leave the TV or Radio on

Having the noise of music or people can help when you leave or even if you are in the house and your puppy cannot hear you. It provides white noise so he/she cannot hear everything as noises come and go outside and that could be scary to your puppy.

Make sure the TV or radio you decide to leave on for your puppy will actually stay on until you get back home.

10. Consider a Pet Camera

If you want to be able to check on your puppy while you are gone and see how he/she is doing then a pet camera can be a great option. It can help with the stress you may feel being away from your puppy.

When I looked for pet cameras there were a lot of options out there. Here are three pet cameras you can check out and see if they would work for you. Just keep in mind I have not used them personally but you may get some ideas from looking at the cameras below:

Kasa Indoor Pan/Tilt Smart Security Camera, 1080p HD Dog Camera 2.4GHz with Night Vision, Motion Detection for Baby and Pet Monitor, Cloud & SD Card Storage, Works with Alexa & Google Home (EC70)

Petcube Pack of 2 Cam Indoor Wi-Fi Pet and Security Camera with Phone App, Pet Monitor with 2-Way Audio and Video, Night Vision, 1080p HD Video and Smart Alerts for Ultimate Home Security (2 Pack)

Furbo 360° Dog Camera: [New 2022] Rotating 360° View Wide-Angle Pet Camera with Treat Tossing, Color Night Vision, 1080p HD Pan, 2-Way Audio, Barking Alerts, WiFi, Designed for Dogs

All three of these pet cameras have different features that may appeal to you. Make sure the one you choose fits your needs and is easy to use.

11. Don’t Make a Big Deal out of Leaving

Try to avoid giving your puppy too much attention when you leave, as this can make it harder for him/her to adjust.

I know you may feel bad or worried about leaving your puppy alone at home for the first time. But this is a part of your life that you and your puppy have to get used to, so try not to make a big deal out of it. Trust me; it will get easier each time.

12. Don’t Punish Your Puppy

Punishing your puppy for bad behavior while you are away will only increase his/her anxiety and make the situation worse.

I know coming home to a mess or destruction can be upsetting but remember your puppy is learning and does not know that he/she should not behave that way. You will learn what works and what doesn’t when you leave your puppy each time so you can avoid repeating things that don’t work.

13. Ask a Friend or Family Member for Help

If possible, find a reliable friend or family member that is willing to check on your puppy and take him/her on a walk while you are away. Make sure that this person is easy to get a hold of in case of emergencies. Also, make sure they let you know how everything went with your puppy.

14. Reach out to a Professional Pet Sitter

If possible, find a pet sitter who is experienced with puppies who could come and check on your puppy while you are gone. This person could be a backup if you are running behind and cannot get back to your house as soon as you planned.

The positive side of having a professional pet sitter is that your puppy gets to have another great experience with a person that is not you. Usually, professional pet sitters will text you an update on their visit with your puppy and how things went.

My article on How to Find a Professional Pet Sitter for Your Dog will give you key tips to consider when choosing a pet sitter for your puppy.

15. Use a Pheromone Diffuser or Spray

Pheromone diffusers and sprays can help reduce anxiety and stress with your puppy.

Here is a pheromone spray I like to use with my clients as a pet care professional. Make sure if you choose to use a pheromone spray that you spray it in the area, crate, or bed where your puppy will be when you are gone, while your puppy is not there.

The smell is interesting and you do not want to get it on your puppy. Just spray it in the area or on the things that will be around your puppy so that he/she can smell the pheromone so it’s effective.

16. Practice Leaving and Returning

This is something that you can start doing in short increments because we want to make it a positive experience for your puppy. You could walk out the front door and stay there for five minutes and listen to hear how your puppy responds to you leaving.

You want to do this ahead of a time when you’re actually going to be gone for several hours, such as when you’re leaving your puppy alone while at work.

17. Be Patient

It may take some time for your puppy to adjust to being alone, so be patient and do not give up. What you expect for your puppy and the reality does not always line up. However, that does not mean things aren’t going to work out leaving your puppy alone at home for the first time.

18. Avoid Leaving Your Puppy for Too Long

Your puppy has a small bladder and needs to go outside frequently, so avoid leaving him/her alone for more than a few hours at a time if possible. Making a note of when your dog last peed will help you keep track of when your puppy needs to go out again.

19. Consider Crate Training

If you’ve crate trained you’re puppy already, that’s awesome. If you haven’t this article on How to Crate Train Your Puppy will be very helpful for learning how to do so.

Just remember that with anything new you want to work on with your puppy such as crate training, set aside some quality time to do it. You don’t want to do it when you’re pressed for time.

Providing your puppy with a safe and comfortable place like a crate can make it easier to leave your puppy alone at home for the first time, as well as with other things that will happen in your life with your puppy.

20. Reward Your Puppy When You Return

Give praise and attention to your puppy when you return but make sure to not overdo it. Also, if your puppy is barking or whining then wait until he/she stops so you don’t reinforce that behavior.

Your puppy is going to be excited to see you so make sure to not get him/her overly excited as that may lead to biting or jumping.

FAQs:

What Age Can You Leave a Puppy at Home?

Your puppy is new to being with you as well as figuring out how to go the bathroom and adjust to this new life with you.

That being said you need to realize that your puppy can only be alone for short periods of time because she/he cannot hold their bladder. This is a big factor in working on your puppy being okay by themselves.

As a pet care professional, I recommend that the time you leave your puppy alone is short and that you are not too far from your home so you can get back quickly to stop your puppy from peeing in the house.

The chart below will give you an idea of the maximum time your puppy should be left alone based on his/her age. Erring on the side of being early is better when it comes to getting home and giving your puppy a potty break.

Age of Your PuppyMaximum Time Puppy Should Be Left Alone
8 – 10 weeks1 hour
10 – 12 weeks2 hours
3 – 6 months3 hours
6 – 12 months4 hours

How Long is Normal for A Puppy to Cry When Left Alone?

Going from having your attention to being alone at home for the first time is a big change for your puppy and can be stressful. Each puppy is different. That is why knowing how long your puppy will cry is not an easy answer.

This is something you will want to test by listening outside of your house and looking at your phone to see when your puppy stops crying. It could be anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes before your puppy stops crying.

That is why the alone time for your puppy should be short to help not only with the stress but also make sure he/she gets to go the bathroom.

Once you get that answer about when your puppy stops crying then you want to add a little bit more time when you leave and help your puppy learn it is a good thing.

I Don’t Want to Leave My Puppy Alone When I’m at Work. Is There Anything Else I Can Do?

There are a couple of options you can try if leaving a puppy alone while at work is a No-go.

You could ask your employer if they would be flexible with your work schedule by letting them know you have a puppy and see if there is any way to change your schedule temporarily. It is worth asking just to know if that’s an option and if that’s not an option, you can work on a different plan.

Another option is to find a professional pet sitter who does midday visits for puppies. This could give you the reassurance that your puppy gets a potty break, attention, and socialization from another person.

Conclusion

I hope this blog post has provided you with the confidence and strategies to set you and your puppy up for success when leaving your puppy alone at home for the first time.

Don’t feel like you have to do these twenty tips all at once. Decide which tips will be the easiest to do and see how they go with your puppy. You can always adjust things as you go.

Another area you may want to work on with your puppy is socialization particularly if you’re having a friend, relative or pet sitter check up on your puppy when leaving your puppy alone at home for the first time. This Puppy Socialization Checklist could come in quite handy not only when leaving your dog at home for the first time, but also for other milestones as well.

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