Dogs are bad at loneliness I Kelly Sikkema
The dog is known to not tolerate loneliness. Many owners witness annoying behaviors (barking, destruction, dirt …) that can be an indicator that the dog suffers from solitude in silence. Why do not you like to be alone? What can we do to teach him to endure our moments of absence?
The dog is a social animal that lives in a group. This way of life translates into an important need for contact, interaction with other individuals. Therefore, poorly supports isolation and loneliness, and can lead to frequent and varied problems, such as barking excessively.
The dog, social and active animal
Unlike the cat, the dog is an animal that in nature have a tendency to form groups. Oddly enough, there are very few studies of wild dogs to know their behavior without man.
Most research reveals that the dog can act alone, but that they tend to organize in small groups. These groups are not random: the dog chooses to be surrounded. But it is about animals in freedom, at home the dog is not in control.
Also, it is an animal that needs a lot of activity. If we do not respect this need, frustration will appear, making the animal less patient, more irritable and excitable and sometimes hyperactive. The moments of solitude can become a real ordeal of boredom and are often linked to annoying behaviors of the animal.
Learning to be alone
The ability to be alone and stay busy is learning . The puppy experiences solitude very little, he spends his life among humans.
That learning can be positive or negative. A dog that experiences solitude in good conditions will surely learn to keep busy or simply wait, with patience and less frustration. In poor conditions, the dog will develop anxiety, stress, fear before and during those moments of loneliness.
The conditions that must be respected:
- Respect the dog’s needs: to better prepare the animal to stay alone, it must be satisfied at physical activity level, its feeding, contact with humans and / or other dogs.
- Enrich your environment: the dog does not have, in general, a total freedom (whether it is in the house or in a garden), it must be provided something to take care of, according to his needs and his temperament.
- Do a progressive learning: do not start a day off with a newly weaned puppy. You have to proceed by habituation: start with absences of a few seconds, then 5 or 10 minutes, and go increasing progressively, without the animal showing signs of discomfort. If you react badly, continue with short sessions until you feel comfortable with the prolongation of the exercise.
How do I know if my dog can be left alone?
Evidently, the best way to know is to try. But today there are numerous techniques to observe your dog at home when you’re not: robot cameras can record, if you want, those moments when you’re not. We can see the images of the animal while we are not, and even receive a notification to the mobile phone if the dog barks. The videos can unveil the odd surprise!
Some of the manifestations related to loneliness can be:
- Complaints, moans, howls, barks.
- Scratching especially near the doors and exits.
- Destruction of objects (either random or otherwise objects with the smell of their masters).
- Self-injury (compulsively licking, biting the tail …) health more fragile.
If you observe these signs during your absences, do not forget to call a veterinarian specialized in the behavior of the dog, to determine the best possible cause of that stress (fear, frustration, boredom …). This stage is often indispensable to implement the appropriate therapy.
What can I do if my dog refuses to be alone?
Learning to be alone can take time, and many owners are obligated to find palliative solutions as the time comes. In certain cases, these solutions can amplify the initial problem: this is the case, for example, with anti-barking collars or containment cages.
Do not hesitate to ask for help from a dog education specialist, preferably a positive education specialist based on positive reinforcement. The sooner you start, the sooner the animal will learn, and the easier it will be for him to measure his emotions in moments of loneliness.
The other option, positive for the dog, is that someone takes care of it, as we do with children. Nowadays there are numerous services available to connect owners with private individuals or companies. The offer is very variable, from the dog daycare to the dog walkers at home, you will find the solution to cover the needs of your dog while you are not.