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What Happens when Dogs Get Lonely

What Happens when Dogs Get Lonely

Dogs are social animals, and they’re not meant to spend their days alone. They evolved in packs, and just like people, they need environmental stimulation. Of course, you’d love to play with your pet all day, but you have to work. Don’t feel bad–there are plenty of solutions! Read on to learn about the effects of loneliness on a dog’s physical health and emotional well-being, and what you can do about it. Whether your pet acts out or suffers in silence, there are signs to look for and steps you can take to solve the problem.

Impaired Development

Puppies and adolescent dogs are at the greatest risk when left on their own. Not only do they have less training and more energy, they are at a key developmental stage in which social interaction with dogs and people can change the course of their lives.

Unfortunately, very young dogs are often ineligible for daycare centers, either because they aren’t fully vaccinated or have not yet been spayed. And even so, do you want to risk your impressionable pet learning undesirable behaviors from dogs you don’t know? Hire a Rover sitter for your pup, and look for someone who has experience with training.

Self-Injury

Lonely dogs can get caught up in excessive licking, tail-biting, scratching, or other behaviors that can cause harm when done on repeat. Check your dog for physical injury and take note of any injurious behaviors that you notice–but keep in mind that you may not be aware of exactly what your dog is doing while you’re away. Install a PetChatz HD to find out details.

In extreme cases, a very curious dog may also ingest toxic substances. Your home should be fully dog-proofed, or your dog must be confined to safe rooms.

Urinary Problems

Dogs who have to wait hours to go to the bathroom are more likely to develop urinary issues, like urinary tract infections. There are, of course, other causes–and some dogs are unlikely to develop these issues at all. However, if your dog develops chronic UTIs, consider a doggy door or hiring a daytime dog walker to make sure your pet can relieve themselves whenever they need to.

Weight Gain or Loss

Ideally, dogs should stay at their biological “set points” and their size shouldn’t fluctuate too much once they’re fully grown. However, dogs who are left on their own often have altered appetites, and difficulty maintaining a healthy weight. They may have a reduced appetite which, paired with insufficient exercise, can lead to significant muscle loss and a host of other health problems. On the other hand, they might become ravenous and dissatisfied with the amount they’re fed, using food as a form of emotional support much like people do.

Pay attention to your dog’s overall physical health, and get regular check-ups at the vet. Because change happens slowly, you may not notice weight gain or loss without careful observation–which is why outside input can be beneficial.

Separation Anxiety

When a dog knows that you’ll be gone for many hours and begins to anticipate the loneliness, separation anxiety and related issues can develop. A dog may become distressed when they sense you’re about to leave, bark for hours while you’re gone, destroy property, or even become more aggressive over time.

Any of these issues may prompt some owners to emotionally withdraw from their dogs, which will only intensify the problems. Dogs displaying signs of separation anxiety need to re-develop trusting bonds with their caregivers. Look for a pet-sitter who is active, kind, and attentive. PetChatz will give you the ability to chat with them during the day, allow them to play brain games, and watch DOGTV.

Solutions

Dogs who are well-exercised and happy will adjust better to long hours on their own, and some owners adopt a second dog to provide company for the first. Doggy doors, PawCall game mode, and chew toys can also help your dog access the mental and physical stimulation and freedom that they need.

But there’s no substitute for one-on-one attention and supervised playtime. A daytime pet-sitter with a PetChatz can take your dog to the dog park, dispense treats and midday meals, and form a lasting and meaningful bond with your dog. Look for sitters who truly love dogs and are passionate about the care they provide. Rover allows you to read reviews as well as personal profiles that give you great insight, and you can use the Meet & Greet to look for fun, friendly, loving sitters who click with your dog.

At the end of the day, there’s no reason for you to feel guilty when you get home from work. Knowing that your beloved dog has had an adventurous, fun-filled day will help you enjoy a relaxing evening together–and a happy life.

Written by Nat Smith, a Rover.com community member. Rover is the nation’s largest network of 5-star pet sitters and dog walkers.

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