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Hi everyone, I have a 16 week old Labrador puppy who all in all has been amazing since we have had him but we are hitting a slight block with training him to be in the house alone. He has a crate which he happily takes himself too in the day to sleep. We can also shut a baby gate into the lounge/ go upstairs and he settles with us out of eye sight/ in another room. The problem is the minute we leave the house even for 30 seconds he starts crying and barking. My partner works from home so although he won’t often need to be left alone we obviously want him to be able too! Any advice would be greatly received! TIA
 

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It's important you pup gets use to being left because with the best will in the world it is going to happen. So the sooner he gets use to it the better. This was a little something I wrote on the subject.

The problem with Labradors is that they are a very social breed, they love everybody and everything, and this is the root cause of most of the problems that you will find. Remember this and it will help you through so many problems. It’s not being naughty or disobedient, it’s simply the love of being with, and meeting people (and other dogs)

And this is the problem you have now. But remember what I always tell people, “Everything is a training opportunity.” Remember, humans tell their dog to jump and dogs say “How high” We are in charge, (in the nicest possible way.) One of the problems with wanting to be with you is that it can then lead to separation anxiety, which is the reason why it needs to be tackled even if you are happy to have your pup around 24/7.

I start as soon as the pup walks in the door. But first, a word about leaving your pup. Make it totally unimportant. I do say goodbye, but it’s just a happy “Bye sweetheart, back in a minute.” With a smile on my face. No big deal. Then go! The same with so much. You don’t have to ask permission, but what you are doing is taking charge. You are getting the relationship off on the right footing. A radio left on low, particularly on a talking program also helps, giving the idea that there are still people around.

Initially all I do is go out the front door, round the house and back in the back door. 15/20 seconds, thats all, you are back before pup really knows you are gone. This is so easy and quick that you can do it 4 or 5 times in a day with no problem. Pup is not worried because it’s so quick, but he is getting use to you leaving. After a couple of days of that I start stretching, I still go out the front door, but instead of going straight back in the back door I’ll take the opportunity to go on “Poo Patrol.” a walk round the back lawn picking up any poo I find. A few days of that then I’ll extend the time to allow me to walk to the corner shop for a quick shop. It’s not long before I have time to go to ASDA for a quick shop! We have extended the time we leave the pup by such small degrees, and always return so pup finds nothing worrying about it! Shortly after my Chloe arrived I was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer and I was spending 10 or 12 hours at a time in hospital, so my conditioning of her was really put to the test. My neighbour was very good, calling round during the day to let her out, which helped no end.

But the other thing which helped Chloe, and which I always recommend is a short crate rest during the day. I always pop my pups in their crate for an hour in the afternoon, in my case 2pm, and again in the evening at 7pm for an hour. Puppies are like children and start getting fractious when they get over tired. An hours rest to recharge their batteries works wonders. I have to say, initially it’s met with crys of disapproval. But I can be as determined as my pup and after a few minutes of howling they fall asleep, and after a couple of days they accept it with good grace. But being left in their crate carries over into so many other places. I have a car crate in the back of my car. I keep a padlock with it so if I go to a garden centre on a hot day I can padlock the door of the crate and leave the tailgate open. It means my dogs can go out with me and have the added interest of being able to watch people walking by. It adds another interest into their lives.
 

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We started a routine of crating our boys after their morning walk. They are 11 months old now and quite happily sleep from 9 - 11am on a week day. My partner and I both work from home, so these two hours allow us to start our day without distraction. We get a tea/coffee at 11 and they get a toilet break and some play. Then back in until we break for lunch.

When they were young puppies one of us would work in the kitchen so they had company and we gradually peeled ourselves away as they got older; I work in the lounge now and have sight of the kitchen, so they can still see me, but they are usually zonked out these days! In the afternoon they are out and about between the kitchen, lounge and outside if the weather is good. They just need to learn your routine and what is ‘normal’; initially we revolved around them when very young, but now they fit in around us 😊

For weekends we use the 2 hour window to nip out together for a coffee or a shop etc. We've not had any issues with this routine, but they can be whiny if they are alert and we try to leave them, and as John said it’s a case of little and often.

Even at 11 months they happily fall asleep, and I would expect at 16 weeks your pup should have more downtime.

Early days we also gave them a small black Kong with frozen stuff inside. We’d stay for a few mins then they would be so busy with that we could step away for some time, increasing the duration as John has mentioned. They need to learn that it’s ok and you are coming back.
 
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