Have you ever noticed your dog acting a bit off? They may be a bit quieter or less active than usual. If you think they may be lonely, you’re not wrong. Like humans, dogs can suffer from loneliness. But, they don’t always show it the same ways humans do.
Here’s how to tell if your dog is lonely and what you can do about it.
Why Do Dogs Get Lonely?
Dogs can become lonely for a number of reasons. One of the main reasons is lack of attention. While you don’t have to pay attention to your dog every second of the day, if they aren’t receiving enough attention from you, they could get lonely.
Pups may also get lonely if they are left alone for long periods of time. Dogs thrive on socialization and need to feel like they are a part of the pack.
Dogs who are lonely may use chewing as a way to cope with loneliness. And not just any kind of chewing, destructive chewing.
If your dog doesn’t normally have separation anxiety yet starts to act anxious when you leave, they may be lonely.
General Loss of Interest
Like humans, a lonely dog will lose interest in everyday activities – such as going for a walk, playing with their favorite toy, or even hanging out with you on the couch.
Loss of Appetite
Lonely dogs may lose their appetite. For example, a pup may lose interest in their food or even water.
While some dogs will act reserved and quiet when lonely, other dogs will become aggressive or anxious. Pups may begin to growl or snap at you when you attempt to pet or get near them.
How To Help A Lonely Dog
Depending on the severity of the loneliness, there are different ways to help a lonely pup. One way to help is by providing them a spot for them to look outside. This may be a bit difficult if you live in an apartment with minimal windows, but dogs are highly visual creatures and like to look outside at squirrels, birds, or other people. Trying adding a bench or pillow near a window for them to lounge on.
A great way to help a lonely dog is to keep them occupied. Make sure they have enough toys or treats to keep them occupied. Try filling a Kong ball with peanut butter or cream cheese for them to munch on while you’re away.
Keeping the television or radio on when you aren’t home is another great to combat loneliness. Classical music is known to help calm pups. Or, you can put the animal channel to provide some entertainment!
Ensuring your dog has enough exercise is another way to help with loneliness. Try taking your pup for a walk in the morning before you leave for work to help tire them out. And if your pup isn’t a fan of walking or can’t walk due to a physical injury, try a pet stroller. You’ll be able to enjoy your walk while your pup is lounging in the stroller!
If it’s possible, adding a new dog to the mix is a great way to help with a lonely dog. Since dogs like to be part of a “pack”, having a friend around will help keep them active and socialized. Just be sure to talk with your veterinarian and even a trainer to be sure it’s the right decision. And take your time! It may take some time to find the perfect second companion.
And if your dog’s loneliness doesn’t improve – especially in weeks or months – talk to your veterinarian. It may actually be something more serious than loneliness.
Just like humans, dogs get lonely from time to time. But spotting – and treating it – quickly, will ensure they get back to their happy selves in no time!