One of the concerns that potential poodle owners have is how they would take care of their poodle while still maintaining their careers. Let’s face it, few of us would be willing to give up our eight-hour job to give complete attention to our sensitive furry friends. But we still want to get a poodle. So, what do we do? Let’s find some answers.
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Can Poodles be Left Alone?
Poodles can be left alone for the amount of time they can hold going to the bathroom. The general rule of thumb when determining how long to leave poodles alone is 1 hour per month of age. So, 2 months would be 2 hours, 3 months for 3 hours. 1-year-old puppies can hold their needs for 8-9 hours.
However, since poodles are social creatures, long periods of alone time may bore them and they could turn destructive.
The age of the poodle is often a big issue because the ‘lone time’ is equivalent to how long your poodle can hold his bladder.
Aside from that, poodles love to socialize and there is a concern that the poodle may develop separation anxiety.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of how exactly you could enable your poodle to be okay at home alone, let’s examine how the different breeds of poodles cope with separation.
Can Standard Poodles be left at home alone?
Standard poodles are the biggest variety in the poodle family. However, they are sensitive and soft creatures. They need tons of attention.
Therefore, standard poodles may develop loneliness if they are left alone for long periods of time.
They may also act up when they are left alone in the home. In these moments, keep in mind that your poodle is not trying to punish you for leaving him alone; it is his natural reaction to a stressful situation.
The good news is that standard poodles are intelligent and you can train your standard poodle to cope with isolation better.
Can Toy Poodles be left at home alone?
Although toy poodles are the smallest in size (24 cm – 28 cm), they possess tons of energy and like to sink themselves into some mischief.
So, where do this energy and mischief go when your toy poodle is left to his devices? Probably in destructive behaviors if left unchecked.
There’s good news though. Toy poodles are the easiest poodle breed to train. You can train your toy poodle to direct his energies and mischief to more responsible activities, as I’ll explain below.
Can Miniature Poodles be left alone at home?
Miniature poodles are smart and active companions. They love to be around people most of the time and they enjoy outdoor walks especially.
Therefore, untrained miniature poodles are generally not likely to take well to long periods of alone time cooped up indoors.
However, if you want to get a miniature poodle, you should not let this stop you since you can train your miniature poodle to keep busy during his alone time.
If your miniature poodle still wants human contact, you can always arrange for walks with family or friends or a dog walker in your area.
Leaving Poodle Puppies alone at home
Puppies of any kind are probably the hardest to leave behind for your work. Often, puppies will be untrained and likely to engage in all manner of mischief and destructive behaviors.
Poodle owners recommend leaving puppies alone for as long as it would take them to hold their potty.
Usually, a one-month-old puppy will last one hour, a two-month-old for two hours, and a six-month-old for six hours, and so forth.
By this measure, a one-year-old should be capable of holding off for eight to nine hours which is about the same amount of time you need to attend to your day job.
To recap, standard, toy, and miniature poodles are likely to react badly to alone time at home if they have not been trained to cope with these moments – more so if they are puppies.
However, the training and other steps you can take to ensure that they cope better are relatively easy to follow. We’ll get to that soon enough. For now, let’s examine the issue of separation anxiety among poodles.
Poodles and Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety in poodles is an emotional response to being left alone. This often happens when they are young or when they are overly sensitive about needing human companionship.
Separation anxiety may interrupt your poodle’s emotional well-being and hinder any attempt at successful bonding. Therefore, it’s important to watch out for the following signs:
- Incessant barking.
- An increase in destructive behavior, for instance, housebreaking accidents.
- Overreacting when you are leaving such as showing frenzied behavior.
- Overexcitement when you are getting back.
If you notice these signs, talk to your vet about appropriate measures. For instance, your vet may recommend a pet-calming remedy – and in this case, you have to be careful that it’s not strong as to badly affect your poodle.
Trazadone is a milder option for pet-calming remedies and is actually used to calm pregnant poodles.
Elsewhere, all-natural, herbal remedies such as the Ultra-Calm and Rescue Remedy may suit your poodle. Discuss all options carefully with your vet.
How to help poodles cope with being at home alone
But before we get to prescribing medication and all that, there are steps you can take to ensure that your poodle does not develop severe separation anxiety.
In an ideal scenario, your poodle develops little to no separation anxiety. Well, you can try these tips and tricks;
Crate-train your poodle
This is one of the best pieces of advice you’ll ever get on how to make sure your poodle enjoys some non-destructive alone time.
Basically, crate-training goes a bit like this: when your poodle enters the crate, praise him, and give a treat. Close the crate door.
Sit by the crate for 5-10 minutes and then leave the room for 5 minutes or so.
Come back into the room and, again, sit quietly by the crate for a few minutes. Let your poodle out of the crate. Do this as many times as you need during the day.
Keep in mind that the goal of crate training is to teach your poodle that the crate is a safe, familiar, and comfortable place.
So, it doesn’t hurt to make the crate as elaborate and inviting as possible for your poodle.
If you’re leaving your poodle in the crate for several hours, make sure the crate is large enough for your poodle to move and even play in.
If you’re considering getting a poodle, ask your breeder if they crate-train their poodles. Often times, breeders will crate-train poodle puppies when they get to seven weeks. It’s much easier falling back on this training when you have the poodle.
However, keep in mind that even the best-trained poodle may chew on bits of the bedspread or gnaw on a chair leg; at the end of the day, poodles are hunting dogs and they may betray their nature from time to time. To avoid these instances, pop your poodle into a crate when you go out.
Good music makes the time fly by
Today, multiple sources recommend using dog relaxation music as a safe anti-anxiety measure.
Now, I can’t tell you whether dogs actually appreciate musical arrangements but enough dog owners swear up and down that their dogs react well to different kinds of music.
There is even this Guardian article that suggests that dogs love listening to Bob Marley!
As it turns out, dogs do have musical preferences, as Professor Deborah Wells at Queens University in Belfast found out in a study on dogs in an animal shelter.
However, I like to this that these musical preferences are created when the soothing melodies are played long enough.
Experts call it habituation. Experts also recommend changing this up a bit in order to provide auditory enrichment.
Nowadays, music therapy for dogs is easily accessible. Spotify playlists are already out there waiting to tease your poodle’s eager musical palette. You can try them out today and see what your poodle likes.
Signs that your poodle may be feeling a certain type of music include less barking, more lying down as opposed to standing when the music is playing, less agitation and tension.
Although not exactly music, leaving on your television or radio may be soothing for your poodle.
The added benefit of music, television, and radio sounds is that they block out any strange noises coming from outside your home – sounds that may trigger barking episodes from your poodle.
Leave enough enticements/distractions for your poodle
To take his mind away from the fact that you’re away, you can leave a few things to help pre-occupy your poodle’s time. These include treats (especially if you have a crate suited for play) and toys.
If you’re away for long periods of time (for instance overnight or an average workday), leave ample food and water.
You can open the blinds near your poodle’s crate and allow your poodle a view of the outside.
Side note: Some poodle owners like to leave a camera set up so that they can keep an eye on the poodle during the day.
If you do this or just pop in to check on your poodle at lunchtime, it may also be a good time to see if your poodle has engaged with the distractions you left behind.
If so, you can leave some more. If not, you may change into something else – there are many toys and other enticements to choose from.
Leave a light on
If you have your poodle in a darkly lit room, it may be wise to leave a light on. This will create a safe and comfortable setting for your poodle.
In any event, you probably have the light on when you’re at home. So, leaving it on may cue your poodle that everything’s okey-dokey.
With these measures applied,
Keep in mind that:
- When you leave on certain kinds of music for your poodle, ensure that it is also music that you would listen to when you’re home with the poodle. Otherwise, your poodle may come to associate your turning on the music as a signal that you’re about to leave.
- Also, resist showering your anxious poodle with hugs and kisses when you’re leaving the home and leaving your poodle alone. You might be training him that hugs and kisses come before you leave and that might only escalate his separation anxiety. Act normal.
You can leave your poodle at home alone. However, remember that, ultimately, poodles are social animals and they need their quality time with you. So, don’t starve your poodle of attention deliberately. It’s not right for humans nor poodles.
Therefore, ensure that your poodle’s time alone is filled with enough excitement, relaxation, and distractions to last him until you get back. In case of severe separation anxiety, consult your vet on proper remedies.