Dogs are social creatures. Sure, you might be your pup’s best friend… but sometimes, there’s nothing like a fellow furry friend that speaks Fido’s language and enjoys the same type of play.
If your dog is the only pet in your household, you may want to consider encouraging some healthy interaction with other four-legged friends. After all, puppy playdates are great opportunities for exercise, mental stimulation, socialization, and fun!
Signs Your Dog Could Use a Friend
Whether you commute to the office or spend your days at home, the fact of the matter is that you can’t always give your dog your full attention.
Signs your dog is lonely include:
- Exhibiting destructive behavior such as chewing, scratching, or digging
- Excessively vocalizing (whining, barking, or howling)
- Pacing or restlessness
- Hiding or self-isolating
- Acting clingier than usual
- Changes in eating and bathroom habits
- Lack of interest in usually enjoyable activities such as walks and games
Keep in mind that some signs of loneliness can also be signs of health issues. To be safe, contact your vet anytime you notice changes in your dog’s behavior or appearance.
If your dog enjoys the following, he may do well with a playmate:
- Trips to the dog park
- Sharing toys (and personal space!)
- Visits from friends’ dogs, or quick meet-and-greets with other dogs on your daily walks
- Playing—because sometimes, we humans just can’t keep up!
If your pup formerly had a buddy, you already know that he does well with other dogs. That said, not all dogs are created equal; you can’t just replace a lost friend with a new one at random. There are a lot of things to consider before pairing your dog with a new friend and expecting them to immediately click.
Choosing the Right Playmate for Your Pup
Ask yourself the following:
- Does your dog have experience playing with other pets?
- Does your dog have a tendency to get possessive, aggressive, or territorial around other dogs?
- Does your dog prefer to cautiously observe when first introduced to new situations, or does he like to dive right into the activities?
- Is your dog trained to follow basic commands?
Consider your dog’s age and abilities, too—can he handle roughhousing, or does he need a gentler playmate? You’ll want to match him with a pup who has a similar personality and play style, taking age, energy levels, and size into consideration.
Additionally, be sure to introduce the two dogs to each other in a neutral location in order to avoid any tendencies to get territorial.
Should You Adopt a Second Dog?
While it’s possible that bringing home another dog could alleviate your dog’s loneliness, this is certainly not a decision that should be made lightly. Age, sex, health, personality, and history can all influence how well the dogs will get along.
Before adopting another dog, ask yourself:
- Do you have the time, finances, space, and energy to care for a second dog?
- Are all humans in your household on board with the idea of another furry roommate?
- Is your current dog trained and well-adjusted?
- Does your current dog get along with other animals?
- How does your current dog cope with change?
If you do choose to adopt a second dog, you’ll likely want dogs of similar age or energy levels. If your introverted dog is prone to anxiety, a rambunctious playmate may just exacerbate that stress; if your energetic young dog needs someone to roughhouse with, a senior dog probably isn’t the best match.
Helping Your Dog Feel More Comfortable Alone
While puppy playdates and quality time between pet and owner are important, it’s also important that your dog is comfortable and confident being alone every once in a while.
It’s possible that adopting a second dog isn’t the right solution for you and your dog; it’s also possible that regularly-scheduled pup playdates aren’t always an option. For those inevitable times when you need to leave your dog alone, there are a few steps you can take to help him feel more at ease without a companion.
For example: make a quick stop at home during your lunch break if possible, or hire a dog walker or pet sitter to break up those hours of alone time.
Crate training is also helpful for dogs with separation anxiety, as the crate acts as a safe, secure space for your dog to comfortable be alone (with the exception of a favorite treat or toy, of course).
For dogs who experience separation anxiety, try PetHonesty’s Premium Hemp Calming Chews. These tasty soft chews are a gently, non-sedating way to make stressful situations such as separation, thunderstorms, car rides, vet visits, and even trips to the dog park more enjoyable.