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Ten Signs Your Pet Might be Lonely

29 January 2016
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UK - It is not always that easy to tell if your dog is lonely. They don’t always show they’re upset in the same way we would. So it’s important to be able to read the signs of stress, loneliness and anxiety in order that we can make sure our canine chums are living the happy life they deserve.

Here are 10 signs that your dog might be lonely:

  1. Chewing and destructive behaviour
  2. Gets anxious when you leave, even for short periods
  3. Hiding
  4. Barking or howling excessively
  5. Loss of interest in usual fun activities, such as walks or playing
  6. Going to the toilet in the house
  7. Eating and drinking less
  8. Over or under grooming
  9. Quiet and withdrawn
  10. Showing aggression

It’s important to get your dog checked out by your vet if they are displaying any of the above signs, to rule out an underlying medical condition. For example, not eating could be a sign of a tummy upset or a dental problem and in some cases, something more worrying.

PDSA’s Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report has shown that sadly not all dogs are as happy as they could be: over 2.3 million are routinely left at home alone for five hours or more - professionals would advise four hours at the most. Being alone can severely affect their mental wellbeing, as they are incredibly sociable animals.

If you think your pet is feeling lonely or bored from being left alone, here are some tips:

  • When you first get your dog, try to socialise them as much as possible (this means exposing them to everyday sights and sounds so they’re not afraid). Being left alone is one of the things your new dog needs to learn is normal. You can find out more about socialising your dog on our dog behaviour page.

  • You can train your dog by gradually increasing the amount of time they are left alone to help get them used to it

  • Popping home during your lunch or break times can help break up the time alone for them.

  • Ask a friend or neighbour to pop in and give your dog the opportunity to go to the toilet while you’re out.

  • There are also lots of professional dog walking or pet sitting services available where someone can come to your home to walk your dog and spend time with them while you are out.

  • Doggy day care and other day boarding services might be available in your area, where you can drop your dog off to be cared for while you are busy. You need to remember to keep your dog’s vaccinations up to date as there will often be more than one dog present. You can find pet sitters and dog walkers through the National Association of Pet Sitters and Dog Walkers.

  • On the rare occasions when you have to leave your dog alone for longer than normal, make sure they have interactive toys or feeders which will keep them entertained but check these are safe for them to be left alone with.

  • Leave your dog in a safe area of your home so that if they do try to chew or destroy anything they can’t cause too much damage.

  • A dog flap, going into a secure garden, is a good way to make sure your dog can get out to the bathroom and enjoy having a sniff around.

  • Leaving the TV or radio on can be a comfort, and can mask noises coming from outside your house which your dog may find unsettling.

  • Giving your dog the opportunity for plenty of exercise, such as a long walk or an energetic game of fetch, before leaving them alone can help them to feel more relaxed and sleepy.

  • Some dogs suffer from a condition called separation anxiety when they become extremely anxious and distressed when away from their owner. This is a severe behavioural problem and it’s best to speak to your vet or an accredited behaviour specialist if you think your dog could be suffering from separation anxiety.

ThePetSite News Desk

Top image via Shutterstock



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