Signs and Symptoms of a Lonely Dog
One of the best parts about dog ownership is just being with them. They can come with you to the park or to a local farmer’s market. Showing your dog around town can be very rewarding. But we don’t always have as much time to be with our pups as we would like.
Our work life or social life could lead to a lonely dog. How can we make sure our pets are taken care of and keep our sanity?
Today we look at signs and symptoms of a lonely dog and what we can do to combat doggie depression.
Signs of a Lonely Dog
If you suspect you’re living with a lonely dog, there are signs that you should be on the lookout for. For the most part, a lonely dog is the same dog that is just bored. Bored dogs get into trouble, too.
If you come home from work and find a mess waiting for you, your dog is probably lonely. They may start chewing things. They may get into places that they don’t belong like the trash or your shoes. A lonely dog might even start piddling in the house. If your dog is doing any of these “bad” behaviors, you may want to think about if they are lonely.
A lonely dog may also vocalize their feelings. They may begin to bark excessively or whine while you’re gone. While this most likely won’t be a huge problem if you have a larger property, if you’re an apartment dweller you’ll certainly hear about it from neighbors. Dogs are social animals, and when they are feeling down, they’ll tell anyone who will listen.
A lonely dog may also pace around the house almost as though they expect to find someone. If you keep your dog home alone, they may spend the entire time running from room to room looking for someone to entertain them. Alternatively, they may choose to hide away instead. Your dog might find a “den” where they feel most comfortable. This might be behind the couch, under a bed or even in spots that are more dangerous
If your dog is feeling down, they’ll show it through their body language too. They may just look sad. They may cower or chew. They may walk with their tail hung low and avert their eyes. If your dog develops full-on depression, you may see them losing their appetite, hiding even when you’re home or even lose if interesting in things they used to enjoy.
Can Loneliness Harm Your Dog?
The short answer is absolutely. A lonely dog can easily develop depression. And there are a slew of problems that are associated with depression including:
- Impaired Development – This can be especially true for puppies. Dogs who are young are untrained and have lots of energy. It’s at this key stage that your dog needs the most training and interaction with others. A dog who doesn’t get enough interaction can develop unusual behaviors or habits.
- Self-Injury – A lonely dog can easily become destructive. They can chew on shoes or furniture. They may eat houseplants or even get into cleaners or other toxic substances. A lonely dog is the main reason that houses need to be dog proofed. A content dog won’t find as much need to “find trouble,” whereas a lonely dog will certainly find trouble. This can hurt or even kill them.
- Weight Issues – Just like with people, most dogs have an ideal weight. As a dog grows, they should put on weight and maintain it. A lonely dog can develop an altered appetite. This makes healthy weight maintenance difficult for the dog. This can lead to muscle loss, or even using food as a crutch much like how some people do.
- Potty Issues – Even a dog who has been trained cannot hold their bladder all day. Most larger dogs can last a work day, but smaller dogs may need a mid-day break. Even if your dog can hold their urine all day, it may lead to urinary tract infections or other toileting issues. If you cannot send someone to visit your dog during the day, consider a dog walker. They can let your dog get out some energy and relieve themselves during the day.
How to Help Your Dog’s Loneliness
There are a few things you can do to ensure your dog isn’t lonely all day. The number one thing to do: don’t leave your dog alone all day! You’ll obviously need to work, but when not working be sure to come home and spend quality time with your dog. If you live with other people, try to adjust your schedules so there is someone home with your dog as much as possible.
You can also make sure you give your dog mental stimulation while you’re gone. Puzzle type toys offer a great distraction. They’ll spend a lot of time trying to get their treat. Even a Kong filled with frozen treats can offer your dog a time suck that will distract them from being lonely.
You can consider giving your dog something you’ve worn. A dog’s strongest sense is smell and giving your dog an article of clothing with your scent can help ease their loneliness.
If you don’t have anyone else who can spend time with your dog while you’re gone, consider a dog walker. A lonely dog is seeking attention from anyone. Even though a dog walker might not be their favorite person, any attention is better than none. Your dog will also be able to get some pent-up energy out by getting some exercise.
If you can afford it, you may also consider getting a new furry friend. A lonely dog may appreciate another dog in the house. The good thing is that they can entertain each other. Though, if you are not home for long periods of time, you may not currently have the time to train a new dog.
Ensuring your dog has plenty to amuse themselves with while you’re out is a big step in making sure they will not be lonely.