Dogs are naturally social, enjoying the company of other dogs and people. As a result, when you leave them, they may panic that they are alone, or they can simply get bored. Even if you are there all the time, teaching your dog to accept being by himself can be very useful.
Start with putting a baby gate across a doorway and leave your dog one side while you are the other. This way he can see you but can’t get to you. Give him his dinner/a Kong or chew toys etc. to keep him occupied. Leave him behind the baby gate for just 1 or 2 minutes, or even less. If he becomes restless or noisy, wait for him to quieten down (as long as he is not in genuine distress) and only let him out when he is calm. Gradually (at a speed he is happy with) build up the time he is shut behind the gate.
Once he is happy for a while behind the gate, progress on to shutting the door. Again, build this up from just a few minutes. When he settles happily behind a closed door, move to a few rooms away, or upstairs. Always remember to leave him with plenty of things to do, chews, toys etc. When you do have to leave him alone in the house, again leave him with things to keep him occupied and gradually build up the time he is left.
If you have to leave your dog and he chews something or eliminates, do not reprimand him. Simply remove him (calmly and gently) from the area and clean up. If you tell him off, he may become worried that you are going to get angry when you get home which could actually encourage him to chew or mess to relieve his worry. If you do come back to a mess, go back a few training sessions and keep training!
Most importantly, don’t forget that it’s never fair on your dog to leave him for more than 6-8 hours.
For videos with further information about getting your dog used to being left home alone, watch the ‘Alone Time’ videos on the Household Behaviour Problems page on www.naturallyhappydogs.com. Membership is usually only £4.95 ($7) per month but you can get a whole month for free by using the voucher code PPG.