Dogs are social animals and they love to spend time with their favorite humans. Between jobs and other requirements, we need to spend time outside the home, which often means leaving our pups alone for some time throughout the day. This can sometimes result in our dogs feeling lonely. Here are a few signs your dog is lonely and that you might not be spending enough time with them:
1. They start exhibiting destructive behavior.
Destructive behavior is a common sign that something is wrong and your dog is trying to tell you. Destructive behavior could manifest in chewing, excessive barking or howling, trash all over the house, sudden snapping or aggression, and other behavioral issues.
If your dog has always exhibited destructive behavior, it is often a sign of poor or inconsistent training, not setting boundaries, existing separation anxiety, not enough exercise, or learned behaviors that have never been corrected.
If your dog is normally well-behaved and suddenly starts exhibiting destructive behavior, this could be a sign that they are lonely and you are not giving them enough attention. This could also be an indication that they are bored, not getting enough exercise, or are starting to develop separation anxiety from being alone too much.
If these are new behaviors, the situation can usually be helped by spending more time with your dog, ensuring they get plenty of exercise, re-establishing routines if they recently changed, and giving them toys or puzzles to keep them mentally stimulated while you are gone.
2. You start finding accidents inside the house.
If your puppy is still learning, finding accidents inside the house is normal. However, if your dog has been housebroken and is starting to have accidents inside the house, it could be a sign that they are lonely and you are not spending enough time with them or taking them outside enough. Accidents inside the house are a common sign of stress. It’s also a common sign of a potential medical issue, so you want to make sure you take your dog to the vet to make sure nothing is going on.
If it’s not due to a medical issue, it’s likely that your dog needs to go out more and that you need to spend more time with them. This could also be a sign that your dog is starting to develop separation anxiety, so you may need to do some work to help establish routines and make them feel more comfortable with you leaving. Another important thing to consider is the age of your dog. Puppies who are learning and dogs that have entered their senior years are less able to “hold it” and need to go out more often to go to the bathroom.
3. Your dog exhibits a reduced energy level and/or appetite.
Reduced appetite and/or lethargy can be a sign that something is wrong. Your dog may have an “off” day every now and then where they don’t feel like eating or playing much, but if it happens multiple days in a row or starts becoming a trend, it’s time to look into what’s going on.
Less energy and less desire to eat can be common signs of an underlying medical issue, so you definitely want to visit your vet to make sure everything is okay. If it’s not due to a medical issue, then it’s likely a sign of stress and could mean you’re not spending enough time with your pup. If that’s the case, then make sure you make an effort to up the quality time you’re spending with your dog.
Getting a second dog, as long as it makes sense for your lifestyle, finances, and family, can sometimes help your dog feel less lonely while you are away at work. If a second dog doesn’t make sense, just making some extra time for your dog or making better use of the time you have with your dog can often help them feel less lonely.
Because a lot of these signs also overlap with medical issues, it’s important to make an appointment with your vet to ensure your dog has a clean bill of health while also making an effort to spend more time with them. This allows you to catch any potential medical problems early and get your dog the treatment they need. Plus, if nothing is going on medically, spending more time with your dog strengthens your bond with them and makes them feel better.