Dogs are inherently social creatures, so it makes sense that your pup may feel lonely without you from time to time. After all, dogs are man’s best friend… and vice versa.
Fortunately, there are several ways that you can help your canine companion feel loved, content, and comfortable staying home without you—especially if you’re heading back to the office after more than a decade at home (in dog years, that is).
Do Dogs Have Feelings?
Feelings aren’t all black and white, even for dogs—your pet’s emotions are more complex than “happy dog” and “sad dog.” Dogs can experience a variety of feelings including stress, anxiety, depression, and grief.
Dogs can even use their strong sense of smell to detect human emotions. In order to understand our dogs’ emotions in return, we need to understand their body language and individual temperaments and dispositions.
If your dog is showing signs of distress or changes in his usual demeanor, he could be experiencing a variety of feelings including dog depression, fear, or loneliness. In fact, separation anxiety is a prime example of canine emotions in action: a dog with separation anxiety is legitimately terrified at the idea of being away from his owner.
Signs Your Dog is Lonely
Every dog is different. Some are more social than others by nature, while others are perfectly content (and prefer) being alone. Some act out in times of distress, while others tend to self-isolate.
That being said, common signs of a lonely dog include:
- Destructive behavior including chewing, scratching, and digging
- Excessive vocalizing, such as barking or howling
- Pacing or general restlessness
- Hiding and isolation
- Bathroom accidents
- Loss of appetite
- Lack of interest in usually fun activities, such as walks and games
You know your dog best. If your usually happy dog seems more down in the dumps than usual, it may be time to change how you go about your daily routine. In some cases, a vet may prescribe medication or recommend a behavioral therapist for a lonely, depressed dog.
Tips for Leaving Your Dog Home Alone
As much as we love quality time with our pets, it’s simply not possible to spend all of our time together. If you need to leave the house to go to work or run errands, for example, it’s essential that your dog is able to feel comfortable at home without you.
To help your dog feel less lonely when he’s home alone, try some of the following tips:
Crate train your dog so he has a safe, secure space to retreat to in times of distress. If a crate isn’t helpful, try designating a space in your home as a safe, secure, familiar “dog zone.” This could be a room with a closed door, or an area blocked off with a baby gate. Not only will this provide added comfort, it will keep your pooch from wreaking havoc on other areas of your house.
Give your dog plenty of comfy, cozy blankets and bedding to cuddle up in while you’re gone. You can even give him an old T-shirt that smells like you for an extra sense of security.
If it doesn’t add to the stress, turn on a sound machine, TV, or music to help your dog feel less alone while you’re gone.
Provide your dogs with plenty of interactive toys such as puzzles and chew toys so he’ll have some entertainment to keep him occupied while you’re away.
Allow your dog access to a window so he can see the outside world, including neighborhood dogs as they walk by.
Socialize your dog. Give him opportunities to interact with other dogs and humans, while also teaching him to be comfortable on his own.
Give your dog mood-boosting supplements to help him feel at ease while you’re out of the house. Pet Honesty’s Premium Hemp Calming Chews are made with natural ingredients to temporarily calm a dog’s demeanor and reduce stress and anxiety. Salmon Oil with Hemp supports healthy skin, joints, and immune response, which can all work together to boost your dog’s overall mood.
- When you’re together, spend plenty of quality time with your dog. This includes walks, games, training, and, of course, snuggles!
Should You Get Another Dog?
Dogs descend from wolves, and wolves are pack animals by instinct. However, years of domestication has allowed dogs to form strong bonds with humans, which is a sufficient form of companionship for many pups.
While there is potential for another canine companion to alleviate your dog’s loneliness, bringing home another dog is certainly not a decision that should be taken lightly. It’s added responsibility and money, and shouldn’t be considered as a replacement for your presence.
If you do choose to get another dog, make sure to do your research to choose your canine’s companion carefully. Age, breed, sex, health, and history can all influence how well the new dog gets along with the current dog. Be prepared to designate a significant amount of time to introduce the dogs and make sure they get along before you leave them home alone together for a day.
If adopting a second dog doesn’t seem like the right solution for you, there are other options. For example, stop home for 10 minutes or so during your lunch break if possible to say hi to your pooch and make the alone time feel less daunting. Alternatively, you can hire a dog walker or a pet sitter to care for your canine during the day.