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Teaching puppy how to be alone

555 Views 1 Reply 2 Participants Last post by  arcouillard
I recently got a Labradoodle puppy. He is 9 weeks old as of yesterday, so still a baby!
Following picking him up, I took a week off of work to help him to get adjusted to our home. I have made sure he gets along well with our golden retriever and teaching the basics of potty training.

He does very well in the crate when he goes in at night time and I’ve been trying to get him used to being alone a few hours a day, he’ll spend this time in the crate (about two in mid morning and two in late afternoon). I work from home, although sometimes I do some daytime traveling working in the field, and do not want him to develop separation anxiety if I have to leave, if he gets used to me always being around. He is very snuggly and latches onto me when I am around.

Because he and our Golden can get crazy playing together, I bought a little play pen for our puppy to have some “calm down time” full of his toys and a blanket. Where he can still have room to play (as opposed to the crate) but he can be more peaceful. I figured this would help him learn to self-soothe and entertain himself when I am not around. I will work near him when he is in the pen (to supervise and make sure he does not have any accidents), however, if I walk away he will cry. I’ve tried to make the pen a positive thing by getting in and playing with his toys with him. I just did not want him to have to stay in the crate for hours on end to learn how to be alone!

Any other time of the day, he will sleep on the couch with my family, play with our other dog, or we take him outside to run around and lots of playing.

am I doing the right thing trying to help him learn to entertain himself and self soothe? Any tips? Anything helps!!!! Thank you
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Yes, you are doing the right thing by teaching him to be alone. That's an extremely important skill for puppies to learn. If you haven't already, you could try stuffed, frozen Kongs or something similar when he goes in the pen...that might be more enticing to him than just toys. Also, you can try slowly acclimating him to your walking away...turn your back, treat. Repeat until he thinks it's a game. Then move on to taking a few steps away, then return and reward. Repeat (reward only for calm, quiet behavior). Work up slowly to going into a different room briefly, them immediately return and reward. Then walk out the front door, return and reward...etc. Keep making it harder, but only at your dog's pace. If he is having a hard time with one step, go back to where he is comfortable, then move on when he succeeds.

I also found when my dogs were puppies that it's best to avoid crating them unless they're actually tired. I know sometimes that's not possible, but if you can, do some training or play or a short walk before crating and they'll be more likely to take a nap instead of worrying about where you went. If they do cry, and you make a fuss and talk to/try to soothe them, you're just reinforcing the behavior. Try to ignore the crying fits, and only give attention or let them out when they are relaxed and calm and quiet. Good luck! Our Cavalier (a breed prone to separation anxiety) used to bark/scream when we left him, but with some training and practice, he now completely relaxes in his crate when we leave. Sometimes he doesn't even come out right away when we get home because he's so sleepy and relaxed! Your puppy will get there if you are consistent about not giving in when he throws a fit!
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