Learning to be alone sometimes is harder for some dogs than others. It’s not particularly natural for a young dog to be on it’s own, these are social creatures that would normally live in a family group. That said, most dogs do learn to be alone, and coping with being alone is an important skill for any pet dog in our modern world. I've put some notes on how to teach your dog to be alone in this post because it's a question that comes up quite frequently on the forum Why do dogs need to be alone? Even if you are retired or work at home you need to teach your dog to spend time alone. Dogs that fuss and get upset when they are alone are not well equipped for living in the human world None of us can guarantee our dogs permanent company. You can’t predict the future and if anything were to happen to you and one day your dog may need to stay temporarily (or permanently) with someone else For a dog that is not used to being alone, just being left while his owner goes to the bathroom can be upsetting. And dogs that howl and bark when left for a couple of minutes can be difficult to re-home if anything happens to their owner When is the best time to teach dogs to be alone? The ideal time to teach a dog to spend time alone is before 13 weeks, as a part of the whole puppy socialization process. It isn’t the ONLY time, but it is the best Don’t wait until your puppy is older, or leave him for long periods during this early training process, if you can avoid it. Use his willingness to accept new things at this age to establish lots of tiny breaks between you. But avoid leaving him so long that he gets upset. Simple steps like being able to shut a door between you for five seconds are a cause for celebration in a tiny puppy. Practice going in and out of your front door with your car keys in your hand long before you actually intend to leave your puppy alone in the house. If your puppy misses out on this learning stage you can still teach him to cope with being alone, but you’ll need to take is slowly, little step by little step How to teach your dog to be alone The key principles here are To make being alone something that happens gradually so that it never becomes distressing To make being alone quietly and calmly more rewarding than being alone noisily Dogs don’t find being alone scary if it happens slowly and builds up over time. Dogs DO find being alone scary if they are left alone for long periods, if something upsetting happens to them while they are alone, if they are left alone until they are desperate to go to the toilet or until they have an accident. Remember, when you leave your dog they have absolutely no idea you are ever coming back. Only by you repeatedly coming back after an interval that is not upsetting, will your dog learn that going away is no big deal. SOLUTION: Leave your dog alone many many times for tiny short periods of time. Build these periods up gradually - we are talking seconds here not minutes. Some dogs will bark and get excited when they are left, even if they are not upset. Unfortunately this means that they are much more likely to GET upset than a dog that just lies down quietly and falls asleep when you leave. SOLUTION: Reinforce calmness in the crate or when alone. You can do this using the ‘click for quiet’ routine Why am I struggling to teach my dog to be alone for a few minutes? Most people who struggle with this process have simply moved the goalposts too fast. Look for a baseline from which to progress. A period of time for which your puppy or older dog can cope with losing visual contact with you. This could be as short as two seconds to begin with. How can you disappear for only two seconds? Place your dog in a crate (or behind a baby gate) next to a door and move the door until it blocks your dog’s view of you then immediately open it again If your dog can't cope with seeing you disappear for a second? Try moving half of you behind a door, then all of you - just momentarily. Remember to reinforce the dog for being calm while you disappear. If your dog is inclined to bark when you go out of sight use an event marker such as a click or the word YES, to mark any calm behaviour. This means that you can still reward the dog even if they start making a noise before you can deliver a treat or open the crate and pet them.