My dog and I… are lonely without each other. Although there are plenty of times when we must be in different places we are happiest when the pack is altogether.
Dogs are social creatures, like humans and when they are separated from the “group” will react in different ways. An older dog may be accustomed to waiting for a few hours until the family is reunited and may be more relaxed about spending the day alone. But a youngster will experience this isolation from his group as a much more stressful event and may not be able to tolerate more than an hour or so without extreme agitation.
I am often asked to address issues that have come into being as a result of this scenario. A well-meaning human has taken a new canine member into their home as a companion but has not taken into account the time when they will be absent from the house. As a dog does not possess the keys to a car, or the ability to read a book or listen to music, the time when he is alone is probably not very exciting – to say the least.
OK we have chewed that bone, pushed that tennis ball around, dug in the corner of the couch, had a nap, chewed what was left of the bone, watched the cat sleep, eaten a tiny piece of the rubber plant in the living room, had a nap, nibbled the corner of the carpet a bit, drunk some water, had a nap……..and it’s still only 11.30. And that’s if your pal has free run of the house. If he is confine to a crate due to the aforementioned activities, he may only be able to stand up, turn around, have a nap, chew a by-now-uninteresting toy or –oh yes, I forgot this one…bark incessantly.
Life during the day when the family is away is BORING. Alright, a dog may not need to be constantly entertained or stimulated but he should at least know what he is waiting for. Soooo, when the first human arrives back in the house, is something great going to happen? Will we be walking? Playing? Doing new tricks? Or will said human be tired, hungry, or simply preoccupied?
A dog is capable of great patience but that does not mean he does not have any expectation and he does not have an “on” and “off” switch. A little puppy, especially should not be left for hours at a time with no company – housebroken or not. He will become anxious and lonely – not to mention scared and the damage that he may or may not do to your home is nothing compared to the distress that this little guy is experiencing. He is also learning new things very quickly and without guidance will not develop into the dog you dreamed of having even if he does have a big yard to play in.
So if you really want a dog, plan for what is going to happen when you cannot be with him……..a dog-walker? Come home at lunchtime for a walk? Ask a friend to take him out, take your pup to work if it is possible…think outside the box. Getting another dog can help but the job of puppy rearing should not be handed over so make sure your pup is learning what you want him to know! And be prepared to stretch your legs when you get home after all, he’s been sitting waiting for this all day!!
– Janine Lazarus, LBSPY #54 (June 2-30, 2014)