Can I leave my puppy at home for the day?
We get lots of questions from our new puppy families, one of them being, "I work during the day. Is it ok to leave my puppy at home for the day?" Here are some tips that we have for families with a new puppy to set them up for success.
Crate Training - This is one of the most important things you can do to make sure your pet and your home is safe while you are away. The crate becomes the place where your puppy not only gets good rest, but where he or she will enjoy being. If properly trained, this becomes their safe spot. Puppies do have small bladders, so we begin training them for a few hours at a time with the crate, working our way to overnight. They will be able to remain in the create around 6-8 hours with little or no accidents. Here are a few tips for Crate Training we use in our "Tailored to You Training" program here at Wildcat Hollow Retrievers.
1. Choosing the right crate - It's fun shopping around for cute crates, houses and playpens, but is it the best choice for everyday use?
- Choose a crate that has a solid base. This makes clean up easier if there are any
accidents (and there will be in the beginning).
- Make sure it has plenty of ventilation. You don't have to have a fan blowing on them
necessarily, but making sure it has ventilation on at least 3-4 sides is a good idea.
- Size matters. Choose a crate that is big enough for them to stand up, turn around
and lie down comfortably, but not with a lot of excess room. If the crate is too big, they
will use the bathroom in the back and sleep in the front.
We like the Retriever brand kennels. This one is a size Medium, which is the size we use for
our puppies in our "Tailored to You" Training Program. You can usually pick those up at your
local Tractor Supply store. But there's lots of crates out there that will work!
2. Stop boredom before it starts - if a puppy is bored, they will bark, whine, howl, or even find something to chew on they don't need to. We put three things in their crate while training, and only these 3 things:
- old towel for absorbing any accidents
Why only these 3 things? Even though stuffed animals are really cute and cuddly, you don't want them to be left unsupervised with them. All of a sudden, little fluffy will be missing an eyeball, a tag, or half of the stuffing from inside and guess who swallowed it? Bully sticks are not rawhides and last a long time. They are a little more expensive, but you get what you pay for. Kong toys are a great choice because they hold up really well for big chewers. Here at Wildcat Hollow Retrievers, we raise English Labs and English Cream Golden Retrievers, both breeds known for their love of chewing.
3. Regulate food and water - It's time to set a schedule. If your puppy is eating and drinking whenever they want, they will use the bathroom a lot more often.
- Feed in the morning and give them as much as they want to drink in one setting.
When they finish, pick it up.
- Give them a drink throughout the day if you're home and of course increase that a
little if they are playing hard or have been outside for a walk.
- If you aren't home and they are in the crate, they do not need a water dish attached
to it. Believe it or not, your puppy will sleep a majority of the day whether they are
outside of the crate or in it.
- When you come home, get them out of the crate, take them outside for bathroom,
and bring them back in for a drink.
- Feed earlier in the afternoon rather than late in the evening so they have time to get
it all out before going to bed.
- Give them water throughout the evening but take it away around 6-7 pm. If you play
hard after that, give them a drink, but make sure they have time to go outside to the
bathroom before bed.
Puppy-Proof the House - Even if you leave for 5 minutes, your puppy can get into anything that's left out. They are curious, inquisitive, and exploring new smells and sounds. They are learning what is for them and what is not. You are the trainer. You are the one who teaches them.
So, set them up for success.
- If you don't want them chewing on your shoes, don't leave them where the puppy can
get to them.
- Make sure to pick up any electrical cords or other items that might be dangling or
enticing to the puppy.
- Reward them when they do something good.
- If they go for something you don't want them to have, replace it with something they
should have, like their favorite toy. This redirects their focus from the bad to the good.
- Don't leave food out where they can reach it. You may think it's safe on the end table,
but is it really? LOL! Dogs seem to become circus stars and acrobats as they learn
new ways to get to something they want.
Dog Walkers - If you are really worried about being gone too long and feel their little bladders just won't be able to hold it, you can always hire or ask someone to come walk your dog during the day. Maybe there is a neighbor close by or a college student looking to make a little extra cash this time of year.
Pet Cameras - And finally, if you want to keep an eye on little Duke while you're away, invest in a pet camera. Tons of parents use Nanny Cams for their children, why not pets? Some even have a speaker and let you talk to your pooch. But don't be surprised if when you get home, he ignores you and listens more to the camera... ;)
Hopefully, these tips will help you feel more confident about leaving for work or an outing an keeping your puppy at home.
If you're interested in learning more about our Tailored to You training program, message us at email@example.com.