Do Dogs Get Lonely? This is What You Should Know

by | Dec 9, 2019 | Dog Psychology

Do you have a job that keeps you away from the house most of the day? If your dog is by itself at home a lot, you may worry about whether they’ll get lonely.

It’s true that pets can feel lonely sometimes. Here are some quick facts about when and why they get lonely, along with ways you can help keep them emotionally healthy.

If you’ve ever wondered, “Do dogs get lonely?” then keep reading to find all the answers you need.

Lonely Pets

We need our pets. They are part of how we find therapy and how we heal, especially when we’re seeking a healthy balance between work and home life. What we don’t always realize is that our pets need us, too.

Plenty of pets are herd animals, or pack animals. They need social interaction, and they thrive when kept together. Guinea pigs are like this, as well as female mice, same-sex rat pairs, and rabbits.

Cows are herd animals, and they have their own social behaviors. They even form social groups within a herd, cliques that specifically exclude other cows. Horses also like living in groups better than living alone.

Even cats that get left alone too often act more like wild cats than domesticated ones. Monkeys are social animals, too, but members of the dog family seem to need the most socialization out of any animal. Other animals, while they may return to a feral state, don’t display symptoms of loneliness like dogs can.

Wild Dogs and Their Behaviors

Wild dogs like wolves thrive in packs, and they’re a highly social animal. They mate for life, and eventually their pups branch out and start their own packs, ranging from 65 miles to 1000 miles away or more. Wolves are devoted and loyal to their pack, rarely allowing interlopers to join.

Foxes are in the same scientific family, but their genus isn’t canis like a wolf or a dog. They’re also not as likely to live in packs, although some do.

Coyotes are closer to dogs’ and wolves’ genetics than foxes are, and they behave like wolves do, living in packs. All three (dogs, wolves, coyotes) can breed together. Because of their close genetic makeup, domestic dogs behave in a similar way to their wild cousins.

Do Dogs Get Lonely? Yes, They Do

Your dog needs to be with others, whether animals or people. They can get lonely if you leave them home alone too often.

You’ll understand your dog is lonely if they’re following you around the house more than usual. They might whine or howl if they can’t see you, and they could even start losing fur. When you try to play, lonely dogs may seem disinterested.

The same way humans can feel sad and depressed, your dog may start to feel this way if they’re alone too much. Because dogs are pack animals, they aren’t living their best lives when they’re by themselves instead of with their pack. To them, other dogs can help, as well as being with their people.

Other symptoms of loneliness in dogs can include bad behavior like ripping up furniture or other items. If your dog is normally well behaved, then acting out may mean he feels neglected. He also may sleep more than usual.

Any or all of these signs could mean your dog feels lonely without you. Your dog might not show all of these symptoms, but that doesn’t mean they don’t feel lonely. Ask your vet if you feel that your dog might exhibit signs of loneliness or depression.

How to Help

One of the ways you can help your dog heal emotionally is to involve them in every part of your home life, instead of acting like they’re in the way. Dogs can do yoga with you, they can go with you when you work upstairs, and they want to spend time with you.

If you already walk your dog once a day, try going more often. Take your dog out before work and after work. Walking is good for you, too, and it will help your dog bond with you more.

Spend time playing with your dog, too. Walking is good exercise, but the mental activity with their friend is important. Play fetch or wrestle or whatever your dog likes to do, so they get some quality time with you.

Another idea is getting another dog. If your dog makes a canine friend, they’ll be less needy when you come home because they’ll keep each other company. While you should carefully consider whether you can care for a second animal, it could be an ideal solution if you can’t be home more.

Getting a dog some new or interesting toys keeps them occupied. Even if you don’t think your dog needs a babysitter, consider taking them to doggy daycare as another solution. The dog socialization is good for their mental health.

Your Best Pet Friend

It’s good that you’re worried about your pet’s health. Fortunately, it’s easy to give your dog’s mental health a boost without expensive medicines or other costly solutions.

Now that you know the answer to your question, “Do dogs get lonely?” you can help your pet find the comfort it needs. From more interaction with you to better socialization with other dogs, there are solutions to your dog’s loneliness.

Hopefully we’ve relieved some of the stress that comes with caring for a pet. For more help with stress relief, read more on our blog.