Loneliness can be a truly unpleasant feeling. Sadly, it is one that our pets may experience from time to time, too. Some dogs will begin to feel lonely when they are spending a lot of time on their own. Our four-legged friends are descended from wolves, and just like their distant relations are social animals by nature.

While wild dogs would depend on their ‘pack’ for safety, comfort, and love, domesticated dogs rely on us for all those things.
And naturally, we’re more than happy to oblige. That’s why pet parent, pup bonds are so unbelievably strong.

However, no matter how close we are with our pets, sometimes life just gets in the way. Hectic work schedule, full social calendar, a new baby; it’s not always possible to spend as much time as we’d like with our beloved pooches.

And while some dogs do actually enjoy a bit of alone time, and are more than happy entertaining themselves, others do require lots of care and attention.

You’re eventually going to have to leave your furry friend alone for a sustained period of time, so it’s important to prepare.
Even if you are home with them for most of the week, the amount of quality time you’re spending together may not be enough for a needy dog.

That’s why for some households, introducing another pet can be a great idea. Loneliness can quickly lead to stress and anxiety in dogs if ignored, and it’s not always an easy spot. That’s why we’re here to help.

Common signs that your dog is feeling lonely

● Constant licking. If you’ve noticed your dog has started licking themselves repetitively, it may be because they’re anxious or bored. Both these conditions can be brought on by loneliness. Obsessive self-licking may not seem like much of a problem, but if it’s allowed to continue it can lead to bald patches or even soreness. If you’re struggling to put a halt to excessive licking, let your vet take a look at them. It may be that they are suffering from allergies or an underlying health condition.

● Whining or verbal signs of distress. A dog who has separation anxiety will most likely show their unease or distress through incessant barking or whining. Separation anxiety can occur when a dog is overly attached to a pet parent and struggles being left alone for long periods of time. You may hear them barking once you’ve left, or scratching at the door. You may also notice them growing agitated as you prepare to leave. Other symptoms include increased heart rate, panting, pacing, destructive behaviors, and urinating on the floor.

● Following you around more. Who doesn’t love their little furry friend following them around the house? It’s unbelievably cute, but more than that it allows them to feel safe and secure. Remember, you are their ‘pack’ leader. If you’ve noticed lately they’re stalking you every minute of the day, they may be craving some pet parent attention. Schedule in some regular one-on-one quality time. A few play sessions and they should soon return to being an occasional shadow.

● Reduced appetite. Stress or anxiety, possibly caused by loneliness, is one of the common reasons your dog may be turning their nose up at mealtime. Separation anxiety isn’t limited to you just leaving the house. Dogs love routine. If they’ve grown accustomed to you being in the same room while they’re eating, and you’re suddenly missing at mealtime, this may trigger a change in eating habits. Loss of appetite can also be a sign of a serious medical condition. If your dog has stopped eating completely, contact your vet immediately.

● Low energy levels. Depression and loneliness are very closely linked. A dog who suddenly loses interest in playing, going for walks, or has even started hiding more, may be feeling a little depressed due to spending too much time alone. The less a dog interacts with humans or fellow animals, the more ‘socially awkward’ they can become. Sleeping a lot longer is also a sign of this.

How you can help your lonely dog

The good news for anybody who’s concerned they have a lonely dog on their hands is there’s plenty of things you can do to better the situation.

You may have noticed while out walking how excited they get when they see another dog in the street. Or how they bark excitedly at the TV when one appears.

Welcoming another dog into your home is probably the simplest way to combat your four-legged friend’s loneliness, while improving their mood.

Of course, that’s not always practical with house size and extra cost just two of factors that need to be considered.
Whether you add another dog to the household also depends greatly on your own pooch’s personality. Some love canine company, while others prefer their own space.

If you’re worried your dog is suffering from separation anxiety, and you’re struggling to stay in with them at the minute then there are a few adjustments you can make.

Gradually build up to leaving them for longer periods. Start off with 5 minutes, then 15, slowly upping the length each time. When you do go out, leave them with clothes that smell of you, and create a stimulating ‘safe room’ where they can feel comfortable playing with their favorite toys. Dogs also love looking out of the window so try and fashion a spot for them to see what’s going on outside.

When you are home, make a fuss over them. Spending quality time with your dog isn’t only great for their health, it’s great for ours, too.
Take a look at our articles – Fun things to do with your dog outside and Top tips on how to cheer up a dog – for a little inspiration.