In Part 1 we looked at some of the ways to get creative with socializing our puppies during this health crisis. Now I want you to consider another important preventative measure. Preparing the pup to be comfortable with spending time alone.
For obvious reasons, a puppy being raised right now, will not be faced with spending much time alone. While this is nice for them, it can also be a potential threat later on. The time will come when we go back to work and school. The puppies not prepared for this time will face a crisis of their own.
Just like us, dogs are social creatures. They are hardwired for ‘let’s all stick together’. We see this first hand when they follows us from the couch to the bathroom or lie at our feet as we work from home. The good news is that with a thoughtful effort in the early days we can proof our dogs to be comfortable for periods of alone time.
Your Job Now
You will need to make a concerted effort to get out of the house without the puppy. Assuming that your puppy is comfortable with periods of time in the crate while you are at home and awake moving around; you can start by just walking out the door and returning after a few minutes. Gradually build up this time so that the puppy is able to comfortably spend an hour or so alone a couple times per week.
This may have you getting out of the house, taking a walk or a drive, just for the sake of your puppy getting this important alone time training. Think about what the schedule will be for your puppy when work and school resume. What might the day look like for this dog? How can you best prepare him for that now?
I will add a caveat here. If you are under self isolation or quarantine because you are sick or have been exposed you are going to follow the protocols in place and not leave your house. Instead you will need to go into another room, get as far away from the pup without leaving the house as you can. Open and close a door so he hears this and gets use to you leaving the room for some time and then returning. Do your best with the layout you have. Just being aware of the potential fall out for not proofing your puppy should help you be able to safely figure out a way, with what you have to work with, to leave the pup alone for periods of time.
A Simple Plan
*Keep departures and arrivals low key
- Pop your puppy into the crate with something they love to chew on such as a food stuffed rubber toy.
- Spend a few minutes in close proximity to the crate.
- Walk out of the house (or room), gradually building the duration of your absence up to the recommended time away of an hour at the minimum.
- Return, ignore the puppy for a few minutes.
- Go to crate and take the pup to his bathroom spot followed by a treat and greeting.
Thoughtful Puppy Raising
With some good planning and attention to this important puppy raising detail. When the time comes, and it will, where we are free to safely leave our homes; the goal of a puppy that is able to manage you leaving him for a few hours should be accomplished. This is very good news for your puppy and for you. And who doesn’t need some good new right now!
If you have some creative ways you have been adapting your puppy raising in these last couple of weeks please share. Stay tuned for Part 3 of What Now? We will look at ways to keep kids, dogs and working from home fun and manageable for everyone.