For dog owners, leaving the house to head to work or go out for an evening often means confronting a pair of sad, puppy-dog eyes as you close the door. Leaving your dog at home while you go out may cause you to feel guilty, but is your dog actually sad to see you go? Or does your four-legged friend enjoy some peace and quiet while you’re away?
Each dog will feel different when left alone. This can depend on your dog’s history, his breed, whether you have other pets, and additional factors. Some might experience severe anxiety or depression. Others might have some symptoms of loneliness or be completely unphased. Luckily, you can watch for signs that indicate what your dog is feeling.
When you leave, your dog may at first feel stress when they realize you are gone for at least a little while. The symptoms of stress - increased heart rate, faster breathing, panicking - will often last around 30 minutes for many dogs before fading, although some dogs may have anxiety the entire time you’re away.
Stressed dogs may bark, whine, or pace. Many of these may not be apparent unless a neighbor lets you know or you have a camera installed in your home. Lonely or bored dogs can also be destructive, scratching at doors, chewing furniture, or tearing apart pillows.
Even after you return and your furry friend has greeted you, some signs of what they felt while might continue. If your dog was sad during the day, you may notice her:
Any of these behaviors could indicate that your dog was lonely or anxious while you were out. If your dog doesn’t display these signs, she is probably alright staying at home alone for a few hours.
If you have noticed your dog acting anxious or depressed, especially when he notices you about to leave, there are some steps you can take to help entertain him while you’re away.
It's also recommended that you avoid making your exit feel too emotional. Some owners, in the process of leaving, give their dogs lots of hugs and loves before heading out. This may make the dog happier at the time, bu tit also makes your exit sadder, as they immediately lose those feelings.
For at least 10 minutes before you leave, be calm, ignore your dog, and try not to act stressed or rushed. Then, when you leave, simply walk out gently without fanfare.
Many dogs also do well with another dog in the household to keep them company while you’re away. If you’ve already considered bringing another dog into your home, this could also help a lonely dog.
You can also have our pet sitters come to visit midway through the day. For dogs that get more and more sad, our visits are a great way to help cheer them up and make sure they're cared for. Learn more, today.