7 calming tips to help when your dog is alone at home

Written by Napo HQ
16th Sep 2022
3 mins read
The photo shows a Springer Spaniel lying on an armchair looking out a window. The dog looks quite relaxed.
Summary
No one likes leaving the dog alone at home, but sometimes we have to do things without our furry best friends. It is possible to bring up a dog that's quite happy to have some time apart. Doing things like shutting the curtains, leaving some music on, and keeping your pup occupied with a long-lasting chew can help to make being alone less stressful for you and your pup.
Everything's better with our dogs, but sadly we can't always be with them. And leaving a dog alone at home can be even more stressful if they suffer from separation related issues.
Here are 7 tips to help bring up a dog who’s happy to have some time on their own.
You can find out more about seperation related issues and how to prevent them in
our guide
. Or
listen to animal behaviourist Hanne Grice
share her expert insight on what to do.
If you’re ever concerned about your dog’s behaviour, or they appear to be suffering from separation anxiety, contact a clinical animal behaviourist who can help you and your dog. 
Napo customers can book free video consultations with behaviourists, and we also offer cover for the costs of behavioural treatment. Get a quote today to find out more.

7 calming tips to help when your dog is alone at home

1. Teach them that being on their own isn’t scary

In small studies,
factors associated with hyper attachment
are also associated with separation anxiety. If your dog is allowed to be close to you all the time and follows you everywhere, they don’t learn to be independent and can get anxious when separated from their special person. 
Start very simple and small. Keep a baby gate or door closed while you go into another room for a few seconds. You can gradually increase how long you’re away for, and how far you go.

2. Take the triggers out of leaving

Dogs are smart animals, and they soon learn our routines. Things like picking up your car keys can act as a cue that tells your dog you’re about to leave.
Spend some time identifying what actions you do that seem to cause a response in your dog. Then work towards making these cues everyday and remove their association with you going away,

3. Minimise disturbances

Some dogs bark at people and animals passing by your house. Shutting your curtains and minimising how much your dog can see can prevent them being disturbed when they’re home alone and promote calmness.
Playing soft, relaxing background noise or music can also help to block out the noises of cars or people passing outside which might disturb your dog.

4. Give them a pleasant distraction

Boredom is one of the key reason why dog’s can become destructive when they’re left home alone. Provide some safe toys or long-lasting chews to help prevent boredom while your dog is alone at home.

5. Make sure they’re comfortable

If you want your dog to be calm and relaxed, make sure the space they’re makes them feel that way.
Your dog should always have somewhere comfy to sleep, and have fresh water to drink.
Try leaving an old shirt that smells of you to help soothe them. Pheromone sprays could also help to keep your dog relaxed while you’re away. And leaving some gentle background noise playing can also help.

6. Break their day up

If you’re worried about leaving your dog alone at home for long periods of time, try to minimise how long they're on their own.
If you can’t come home from work at lunchtime, or know you’re away, you can hire a pet sitter or a dog walker to check on your dog. Or ask a trusted family member or friend to see them for a walk and a cuddle.
You can also try enrolling your pup in doggy daycare.

7. Never punish your pup

You shouldn’t punish your dog if they’ve howled the house down, shredded shoes, chewed furniture, or gone to the toilet inside while you were away.
Your dog can’t link the punishment to the behaviour. Punishing them can worsen their anxiety about being left alone, because they associate a punishment with the end of alone time.
In the case of accidents in the house, punishing the dog could lead to them developing coprophagia (eating poo) in an attempt to hide their accident and prevent punishment.
If you’re concerned about your dog, be sure to take them to a vet. They can refer you to an animal behaviourist who can help you, and help your dog.
With Napo, we cover the cost of behavioural treatments and you can book free video consultations with behaviourists through FirstVet. Get a quote to find out more.

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