Complete Guide to Leaving a Shihpoo Puppy Alone at Home


As cute, sweet and fun as Shihpoo puppies are, the reality is that we cannot take them with us everywhere we go. Some places are out of bounds, even for these small companions: work, medical offices, grocery stores, gyms, etc. We have learned from experience and research the guidelines in this post about leaving your Shihpoo puppy alone at home.

The 13 Most Important Things to Consider before Leaving Your Puppy Home Alone

There are many variables to consider before you consider leaving your Shihpoo home alone. Some have absolute answers while others will depend very much upon your own preferences and upon your puppy’s individual personality and experience.

  1. The Age of Your Puppy
  2. Whether Your Puppy Is Potty Trained
  3. Any Previous Experience Your Puppy Has Had with Being Left Alone
  4. The Length of Time You Expect to Leave Your Puppy Alone
  5. Your Puppy’s Individual Temperament
  6. The Need for Food while Home Alone
  7. A Proper Exercise Schedule
  8. Your Puppy’s Access to Fresh Water
  9. Bed, Crate, Puppy Apartment, or the Back Yard
  10. Toys to Leave
  11. Whether there are Other Animals in the House
  12. Use of Technology to Monitor or Interact with Your Puppy
  13. Possible Alternatives to Leaving Your Puppy Home Alone

Before addressing each of these items in more detail, here are the basics. Once your Shihpoo reaches two or three months and is able to sleep through the night without accidents, you can begin leaving your puppy at home in his or her crate for up two or three hours at a time. Four hours is the maximum amount of time you should leave your Shihpoo alone in a crate, and even them, pay attention to cues your puppy is giving you about how he or she feels about being alone.

Exercise your puppy before leaving him or her alone for a few hours, and give the fur ball a special treat as incentive to look forward to the time alone. During the day time, you may even want to cover your puppy’s crate with a towel to keep it dark or to keep him or her from worrying about or being jealous of other pets in the house (or anything walking, running or flying past the windows).

The Age of Your Puppy

The first and biggest factor in deciding if or when you can leave your Shihpoo puppy alone for any period of time is good or her age. If you bring home an eight week old puppy, you should plan on spending the next couple of week with that bundle of furry cuteness

If you can’t take time off work, you should plan to have a dog sitter. Leaving a recently weaned Shihpoo alone for even an hour when not napping can create anxiety in the puppy, or worse.

Whether Your Puppy Is Potty Trained

We create trained our Shihpoos from the start. Using a small create that the feels fits snuggly into, we find our Shihpoos had no trouble holding their bladders for several hours at a time. For the first week, I got up times a night to carry the crate outside (with the puppy in it) to let him take care of his business. The second week, I was getting up just twice. During the third week, it was once. That was it. After that, we have been just fine.

By age 3 to 4 months, or Shihpoos were sleeping through the night for 8 to 10 his straight. In fact, one of our puppies took just 2 weeks (age 10 weeks) to sleep fully through the night. With that ability developed, it can be possible to leave your Shihpoo for an hour or two in his or her crate during the date without worrying about accidents.

However, extended time in a crate during the day (4+ hours) it’s never advisable. While most Shihpoos may feel secure and content in a crate since it hearkens back to the dens of their wolf ancestors, they still need attention, exercise and interaction to provide mental activity.

Any Previous Experience Your Puppy Has Had with Being Left Alone

If your Shihpoo is a rescue, he or she may already have had experience being left alone for many hours. He or she may even have abandonment anxiety for having been left alone too early and for extended periods of time by a previous family.

Even if you got your Shihpoo as a puppy, he or she may have felt the pain or anxiety of an extended absence early on that would only be reinforced by subsequent separations he or she is not ready for.

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Pay attention to your puppy when you get ready to leave. Your Shihpoo is smart enough to know recognize signs you are headed away. There was a time when my wife was delivering food through an online service, and our oldest Shihpoo, Titus, quickly learned that a certain ringtone on my wife’s phone meant that she would close the laptop or get up from her work or stop her tasks and leave for 30 minutes or so.

If your Shihpoo puppy starts barking when you get ready to leave, don’t take that as a sign that he or she has separation anxiety. If, however, your puppy starts to tremble, urinate or defecate in the house, or exhibits continuous, desperate attempts to leave the house with you, these are more likely signs of concern.

The Length of Time You Expect to Leave Your Puppy Alone

When your puppy is brand new to your home, avoid leaving him or her alone during the day. Consider the first three weeks at home (typically when the puppy is 8 to 10 weeks old) as bonding time.

If you are headed to work, make sure a family member can be with your puppy. This does not mean the puppy needs to be held or played with constantly. The crate is still a great training tool during this period so long as it is used properly and NEVER as a punishment.

For the next few weeks (10 to 12 weeks of age), your Shihpoo will likely be in full explorer mode. Puppies are excited to discover new rooms, new furniture, the warm spots in the house (not-so-much the cold spots). They are not so excited about being left alone in the home all day.

During two to three months of age period, you can generally start crating your puppy for an hour or two while you run errands, go out for a bite, or otherwise get some fresh air and me-time.

We don’t like to leave our Shihpoos in their crates for more than three hours at a time, even though they might be okay with it. If you are gone for an hour or two, your puppy might be asleep the entire time and not even notice they are alone. When you get home, show them some love, get them outside for their business, and spend a little play time with them.

If you do leave them for three or four hours (maximum), make sure to give them lots of attention before and after.

Your Puppy’s Individual Temperament

Some Shihpoos puppies may inherit more of their Shih Tzu parent’s temperament of being laid back and easy going while others may inherit more of their Poodle parent’s athleticism, playfulness and liveliness. Most will be a nice mix of both.

Still, each Shihpoo will have his or her own personality, temperament and social needs. Your Shihpoo will give you signs of their own as to how they are handling short times alone.

If your puppy begins whining or barking or shaking (or all three) when you head him or her toward the crate, they will need some extra attention and time to adjust to a two or three or four hour absence.

Both of our Shihpoos, as different as they are when it comes to personalities, adjusted just fine to being left home alone, but we got them each at eight weeks and trained them slowing and with lots of positive reinforcement.

The Need for Food while Home Alone

Obviously, a healthy and balanced diet for Shihpoos is important. Most Shihpoo puppies ready to be left alone for a few hours will not need more than two meals a day.

What that means is that you do not need to leave a bowl of food with your Shihpoo while you are gone for a few hours. Rather, offer them food before you leave and after you return.

You can and likely should involve healthy treats in your routine, though. Our own Shihpoos typically do not get snacks or treats throughout the day unless we are training. The exception is when we leave them for a few hours and at bedtime.

When leaving, we offer our Shihpoos three or four small puppy snacks they can enjoy in their crates. They usually inhale these treats within a minute, but by then, we are on our way out the door. At night, after brushing their teeth, we offer them a dental chew. They love both the snacks and the chews and often run (even spinning) to their crates.

A Proper Exercise Schedule

When your puppy gets to the point of spending three or four hours at a time alone, especially in a crate, sufficient exercise before and after your absence is critical. If you plan to leave your Shihpoo alone while you had to work for the morning, you should plan to take your puppy on a good walk or even a one mile jog before breakfast.

With a good exercise session, breakfast and water, your Shihpoo will likely enjoy some alone time to do what dogs do best… Nap! It is a dogs life, after all.

When you come home, after letting your puppy out for a potty break, take time for some more physical activity. That might include a short but vigorous walk, a game of fetch, or even some hide and seek, chase or tug-of-war.

Your Puppy’s Access to Fresh Water

If may be comforting to know that Shihpoo puppies, like other puppies, do not need water constantly throughout the day. That is not to say you can withhold water from them without serious consequences.

However, when you place your puppy in a crate, a puppy apartment, or elsewhere to leave him or her for a few hours, you generally do not need to place 16 ounces of fresh water in with the fur ball. Your Shihpoo needs about one ounce of water per pound per day. For a young, 4 month old, 6-lb Shihpoo, that is about three-quarters cup of water daily.

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If we are going to leave our puppies for a few hours, we make sure they get some water to drink ahead of time, have a few minutes in the back yard to take care of their “business,” and then get them some water after our return.

Whether to Leave Your Puppy in a Bed, Crate, Puppy Apartment or the Back Yard

We would never leave our Shihpoos at home alone for any period if time unless they are either in their crates, their apartments or in the back yard.

Shihpoos generally crave your companionship, which is one of their most endearing traits as a member of your family. If you leave your Shihpoo to wander the house while you are out, chances are pretty high that you will come home ot find an accident of some sort upon your return.

When the weather is pleasant, you should have no trouble leaving your Shihpoo in the back yard for an hour or less. If you have backyard neighbors with a dog or two, you should expect your Shihpoo to bark and carry “conversations” through the fence.

After an hour or so outside, our Shihpoos will get bored, no matter how many chew toys they have in the yard. Bored Shihpoos can start digging (especially if the weather is a bit cool) or bark regularly because they are anxious.

Our wonderful neighbor has lent us a two-bedroom puppy “apartment” that our youngest Shihpoo uses from time to time. When we are going to be gone for two or three hours, we put our oldest in his crate and the youngest in the apartment. The apartment has a space (“room”) for sleeping and one with a spot for food or water.

We generally do not include food since he gets enough at other times. We do leave him with items to help him pass the time, which we address in the next section.

By far, our puppies prefer their crates when we are away. As long as the crates are not too large (which leads to accidents and messes from chewing), Shihpoos will generally relax and rest for several hours at a time in their crates. Just make sure the crate includes a soft sleeping pad or mat.

How Many and Why Types of Toys to Leave

Although not always necessary, leaving your puppy with something to chew on or play with while you are gone can help your puppy stay calm. If you leave puppy in his or her crate, one small toy will be sufficient.

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In an “apartment” (larger wire crate with two “rooms”), two or three chew toys are enough. If you leave your fur ball in the back yard, leave him or her with several objects to occupy the time you are away.

Whether there are Other Animals in the House

If you have other pets in the house, leaving your Shihpoo in the same room may lead to excessive barking or anxiety. We keep our Shihpoos in their crates in separate rooms. They cannot see each other and only faintly hear each other. If they were able to see each other, one or both would be more likely to bark and get anxious to play or otherwise get out.

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If you have a cat that wanders the house, place a towel over the front of your puppy’s crate so that he or she cannot see the cat. You don’t want to give your puppy a reason to be jealous of the cat who gets to live the “free” life in the home.

Use of Technology to Monitor or Interact with Your Puppy

You might be tempted to use two-way video monitors while you are away, thinking that it will allow you to extend the length of time your Shihpoo can be alone. You might also think it can be a substitute for actually being at home. We would caution you against both of these trains of thought.

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First of all, our Shihpoos have not interest in watching anything screens, unless they see other animals on those screens (our puppies bark up a storm when they see other dogs, horses or, of course, squirrels on the TV). So, expecting your Shihpoo to interact with you on a screen may be overly hopeful.

Second, you might think that you can allow your Shihpoo to wonder the house when you are not home so long as you are on a video monitor. You can save yourself and your little teddy bear a lot of headaches by just using a crate or puppy apartment.

Possible Alternatives to Leaving Your Puppy Home Alone

Shihpoo mamas and papas do not always have as much flexibility as they would like to spend time with their furry puppies in order to accustom them to being alone for a few hours. If you are a situation where you must be away from home and your Shihpoo for more than four hours at a time, here are a few ideas for you to consider:

  • Find a neighbor, family member or friend your trust who is available to come into your home, let your puppy out of his or her crate (or bring him or her in from the back yard) to feed and play with for 30 to 60 minutes before putting the puppy in his or her crate. Make sure the adult is trained and responsible enough to care for your furry treasure. Text your neighbor, family member or friend at lunch time to confirm they have arrived.
  • Find a neighbor, family member or friend who is willing to “board” your baby during the day while you are away. When choosing this option, make sure that you go with your puppy to the second home several times to put your puppy at ease there. You may even want to stay long enough for your puppy to take a nap to feel comfortable sleeping and waking up with you there.
  • Hire a dog sitter to visit your home to provide the same service. Rover is a service we like, even though we have used neighbors at times to watch our puppies while we were on vacation. Send the same text confirmation to the sitter as mentioned above. If your puppy is very young, you may consider having the sitter stay for several hours so that your Shihpoo is only alone for a couple hours in the morning and the evening during nap time.
  • As our puppy grows, you may consider moving from a “sitter” to a “walker,” using a service like WAG to find a dog walker in your neighborhood to take your puppy out once or twice a day for some fresh air and exercise.
  • If you are fortunately enough to work at a dog-friendly place of employment, make sure you take your puppy on short visits to your office before taking him or her for a full day.
  • Consider a doggy day care. Be sure to visit several more than once and for more than a cursory 10-minute tour. Take your puppy and gauge his or her comfort level. Consider the various services included and not just the cost. Some day cares offer training refreshers, massages, social playtime, and even cuddle time with a care provider.
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Related Questions

How long do Shihpoos live? Shihpoos can live 10 to 15 years, although there are reports of some Shihpoos living as long as 21 years.

Are Shihpoos easy to potty train? Shihpoos can be quite intelligent, contributing to a relatively easy potty training experience. Many can be crate trained and trained to ring a potty bell to be let outside by four months. Others may need six months. Accidents will happen, but in our experience, they were few.

Todd Christensen

Founder and lead blogger at ShihpooCentral.com, Todd loves his family's two Shih-poo puppies, Titus Rex and Stark Antonio (aka Sir Titus Whitus and Baron von Wigglebutt). He and his wife have four wonderful human children as well, and he doubles by day as a financial educator facilitating budgeting, credit building and debt elimination workshops.

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