Keeping My Dog From Feeling Lonelyby Lisa McQuerrey
Dogs are social creatures who crave and enjoy the company of other animals as well as their human companions. Dogs left to fend for themselves for long stretches of time can become lonely, anxious and even destructive.
Employ a Dog Walker
Find a qualified dog walker or dog sitter who can check in on your pup during the day when you're not at home. This ensures your dog is getting fresh air and exercise as well as interaction. Some dog walkers walk multiple pooches at one time, which can also be a good opportunity for your dog to socialize. Check with your vet for a list of service providers who come highly recommended in your area and conduct interviews to find a good match.
Use Doggy Daycare
Doggy daycare, much like human child care facilities, focus on providing a safe and enriching environment for pups while their human companions are at work or otherwise engaged. Visit several centers before you decide on one that fits your needs. Ask a lot of questions about how dogs are socialized, what an average daily schedule looks like, and what the handler-to-dog ratio is like. Inquire about how fights are prevented and hygiene maintained, and ask for references you can talk to.
Get a Companion Animal
Having another dog or even a cat to socialize with can help keep your pup from being lonely. This works especially well if you have young animals you're introducing who can grow up together. If you're getting a second pet to keep a first pet with separation anxiety issues from being lonely, it won't work as well as if you're introducing two animals who are already well socialized. Separation anxiety is its own separate behavioral issue that requires professional training to address.
Take Your Dog to Work
Many employers now give staffers the opportunity to occasionally bring their pets to work with them. If you have a well-behaved and well-socialized dog who won't cause a problem in an office environment or distract you or others from their work, this could be an occasional option to keep your dog from being lonely. If this isn't possible, try to work occasional breaks or lunch hours away from the office and make a quick trip home to check on your pooch.
Spend Quality Time
Create a schedule in which spending time interacting with your dog is a priority. Don't get a dog if you can't socialize it properly or give it adequate time and attention. For example, if you work extremely long hours or frequently travel and have no other option for caring for your dog, short of leaving him in a kennel or fenced yard with an automatic dog feeder, you're doing your pup a disservice.
- Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images