Crying When Alone

by Jenny Turner

When your new puppy arrives he will probably feel a little insecure about that fact that everything is new, and he’ll be used to his mother and litter mates to keep him company. So it’s easy to understand that he will probably cry when left alone or confined. Crying has probably paid off in the past for your pup, as he would have used it to get his mother’s attention if he was cold, hungry or had become separated from the rest of the litter, so it will be his natural response when he is separated from you.

This method applies to crate training as well as teaching the puppy to be outside by himself. He considers himself isolated anytime that he is not able to be in physical contact with you, even if he can still see you. You will need to initiate some “tough love” from day one, or else you may find that your pup becomes an annoying barker as an adult dog.

This training needs to be started before you go out for a whole day and leave puppy on his own, or else your neighbors will be left listening to the crying without any way to stop it. So start by confining the puppy outside or to his crate while you’re still at home.

The fastest method is to totally ignore the puppy. This may be difficult as the crying and barking will be annoying, but any attention is reward for crying and will only encourage the puppy to try harder next time. You want to be able to reward as often as possible, so at first reward a small gap in the crying – 5 or 10 seconds. When you reward, don’t talk to the puppy, simply toss a treat outside or into the crate and walk away. He’ll probably start vocalizing again, so wait for the next 10 seconds of silence, then reward again. As he starts to understand what’s going on he will cry for shorter periods, then you can wait for longer periods of silence – 15 seconds, then 30, then 1 minute, then 2 minutes, etc. Then it’s time to add a command word. As you stick your head outside to drop the treat say “quiet, good quiet”. If the puppy can associate this command with being quiet (and being rewarded) you can use it in the future if he’s barking from excitement. When you’re ready to end the training, wait for silence then reward by letting him inside or out of the crate.

The key here, as in all training, is consistency. You will undo your hard work if you give in to his crying and let him inside when he’s being vocal.

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