A puppy in his initial stages is always in the company of his mother and litter mates. Once the puppy reaches your home, he accepts your family as his new pack and expects to learn the ways of life from his new pack — your family. It is quite unnatural for a puppy to remain away from his own pack. If you need to step out to the nearby store or attend to someone at home, train and prepare the puppy well before to remain calm and occupied with toys in his safe spot. The first step before bringing the puppy home is to puppy-proof the living area of the puppy.
Management is the simplest way to avoid accidents. All puppies, like human infants, need constant supervision. They are curious and explore the world around them using their noses and mouths. Decide beforehand where the puppy will be left alone — his safe spot. Based on space available in your home, you can opt for a puppy-proof room or use a crate for your puppy. If you are using a crate, make sure you have introduced the crate to him in a positive manner. The puppy should feel safe and calm inside.
Make sure that in that safe spot, the puppy has access to his favourite toys, chew toys, bones, water and his bed to take a nap. These toys should be brought out only when the pup is left alone. By doing so, the value of these toys goes up in the pup’s mind.
Start by teaching the puppy to stay in this area, while you are still present around the house. Initially test it out for at least two minutes and slowly work it up to an hour or so. Now try the same exercise without you in the puppy’s sight.
Once you are assured that the puppy will keep himself busy or sleep in his safe spot, you can start leaving him on his own for up to two hours, but never longer than that. No puppy below six months should be left unsupervised for long. Once your work is done, you may come back and lead your puppy to his toileting area and then keep him near you as usual. Happy puppy “paw”renting!
(The writer is canine behaviour consultant and founder of Confident Dogs. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)