Maintaining Good House Behaviors: 12 Months and Up

Twelve months and up

 At this age your puppy should be reliable in the home off leash and left unsupervised. Your dog should not chew on inappropriate objects, beg for food, jump on furniture or counters, or race through the house. Your dog should understand your expectations of house behaviors.

A twelve month and older dog can continue to be tested on their house manners and independence granted based on their prior history. A dog this age still needs to be relieved, exercised, and set up for success before being left alone.

  • Continue to practice leaving tempting items on the floor throughout your home.
  • Once the dog has been proven reliable up to two hours in one room you can offer more of the house that is clean and free of tempting objects for up to two hours.
    • Remember to offer more time in small increments to ensure success.
  • One or two tempting objects can be left in the room while the dog is unsupervised if practice when you're present is continued to be successful. Trashcans with one or two items, a sock, or pieces of paper are good objects to start testing with.
    • Leave the dog in one room unsupervised with a leash attached. Return to the room two minutes later after walking away from the room or leaving the house for a short amount of time.
    • If at any time the dog chooses the forbidden object when you return the dog needs to be interrupted and you need to stop the exercise and return to a safe room free of forbidden objects on the floor.
  • Continue testing the dog unsupervised in different rooms of your home as the dog proves to be trustworthy with the current challenge.
  • When a dog is recalled for formal training the dog should reliably be left in a clean home for up to four hours.  They should also have basic understanding to avoid forbidden objects and display appropriate house behaviors.

Setting up for Success

  • Make sure your pup understands and exhibits suitable house manners when you are supervising them. If they can’t follow the rules when you are there they are not ready to be left unsupervised.
  • Give your pup experience on the tie-down. Remember you need to be present, but tie-downs teach your pup to remain calm and relaxed in one area of the house.
  • Leave your pup in a room alone with a closed door or gate up for short periods, building up to longer periods of time. Be close enough to periodically check on them or hear if your pup is vocalizing or being destructive.
  • Remove all dangerous or potentially harmful objects from the room(s) your pup will have access to. Trashcans, laundry baskets, cords, wires, and tempting items should be out of your pup’s reach.
  • Check all doors and windows to make sure they are secure.
  • Before leaving your pup alone make sure they have a comfortable place to lie down, have had water to drink, and have relieved themselves outside before being left alone.
  • Give your pup physical exercise before you leave. A tired puppy is a well-behaved puppy.
  • Make sure your pup is calm and relaxed before you leave. Do not make a production or feel anxious about leaving because your pup will sense your uncertainty and possibly get upset.

Staying alone successfully

  • You want to start with very short increments of time staying nearby in case anything should happen: walk down the driveway, take a quick walk, or spend a few minutes around the outside of your home.
    • Leave your pup with a fun toy like a Kong or Nylabone with peanut butter the first few times they are alone to distract them from your departure.
  • Return calmly and quietly, praise your pup for their good behavior without allowing them to get too excited.
    • Only correct your puppy if you catch them being destructive. If you did not catch them in the act of doing something wrong simply clean up the mess.
  • It is important that your pup spends time completely alone if you have other dogs in the house. Your pup needs to be comfortable without another dog present, because most people with guide dogs do not have another dog in the home.
  • After you have successfully left your pup alone for several minutes while being close by, start leaving your pup for longer periods of time starting with 15 minutes.
    • If you experience setbacks and your pup shows any anxious or destructive behaviors, go back to beginning so they are successful. It is important your pup is successful being left alone.