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Dealing with a lonely dog

November 24th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

puppy dog eyesHumans and dogs are social creatures. Both are types of pack animals. Dogs are extremely social creatures with a genuine need to socialize and interact. Because humans have domesticated dogs to what the are now, socialization with other dogs is not sufficient..YOU ARE THE CENTER OF YOUR DOG’S WORLD. She wants and need to spend time with you. Unfortunately, few people can be with their dog 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Life can be busy, some days more so than others. Its often hard to find genuine pleasure preforming basic care-taking of our four-legged friends. The more time becomes shortened, the more responsibility seems like a burden. Added responsibilities and increased demands on our time even start to take away from the joy and quality of what time we do get to spend with our dogs. When things are weighing heavy on your mind, simple everyday joys change from pleasure to headache. A short walk through the park can become another chore, rather than a chance to unwind and spend some time together having fun. Regardless if you like it or not, our lifestyle choices (to a degree) affect our dogs as well as ourselves. A sensitive dog can be so impacted by their owners mindset that they actually become depressed and anxious themselves. More well-adjusted dogs still suffer through isolation also. When time is short and stress is high, it becomes all too easy to overlook something like a walk down the street or a game of fetch. Sadly, we can’t always make as much time for our dogs as we would like to. It doesn’t need a huge amount of energy, or more hours in the day, to spend more time with our dogs. Read on for ways to include our dogs in our lives without spending minutes and hours that we don’t have.

Try bringing her with you.

If you have errands to run, like getting the mail or going to the store for bread, your dog would love to come along for the ride. Even if she has to stay in the car, she will enjoy the change in scenery and smells. Its also a good time to spend some time together, just being in the same place at the same time can help more than you think. If you need to take the kids someplace, or visit a friend, bring your dog along. Then she can spend time with several people as a group.

(NOTE: if you need to leave her in the car for much more than a half-hour alone, it would be better to leave her at home where she has access to water and bathroom)

Allow her in the bedroom with you.

She doesn’t have to be on the bed, a dog bed in the corner or foot of the bed will make her happy. Spending this “down time” together is both undemanding (your going to sleep either way, right?) and helps to increase the bond you share. In the wild, dogs would sleep huddled together with he rest of the pack. Now the wild has become your home and the pack has become you. Dogs are hardwired to be more comfortable when close to others at a vulnerable time such as sleeping. It calms the nerves and promotes togetherness and safety. When you allow your dog into your bed room at night, you are helping to calm your dog and make her feel safe. You really can’t get much easier than that.

Find something you both enjoy, then do it together.

Taking the dog for a walk can quickly become a chore if its boring, the more interested you are the more time you will find for it. Don’t always walk down the same street at the same time everytime, explore a little, have an adventure. Dogs do enjoy revisiting the same places, but also enjoy new ones. Instead of the same old walk down the street everytime, try going to the river, or a park, or a different park, or how about a hiking trail..even just a different street can help.

Learn to multi-task.

Anytime I’m cooking or reading or writing, Max will plop himself down right beside me and stare with wrinkled forehead and slanted eyebrows (the classic puppy dog eyes, you know the look) This used to make me feel horrible. I could almost hear him saying “Why aren’t you playing with me?” “Why does that get your attention and not me?” So now I multi-task to include him. When cooking, I’ll have him practice “Sit” and “Lay” When reading or watching TV, we cuddle. I get to relax and Max gets his tummy rubbed.

Don’t do it all by yourself.

If other people live in the house, it can make things easier on everyone to share the responsibilities. It is also better for your dog, the more interaction with the pack (people she lives with) the better. You can take turns with things such as walking, playtime, feeding. Basically, the more interaction the happier your dog will be. As for children, you will need to decide on a case-by-case basis what interactions they have and don’t have with the dog. As a general rule of thumb, before allowing a child out of doors and unsupervised with a dog, make sure you’re OK with how the dog and the child interact. The dog should know that the child is higher ranking than she is and obey the child’s commands. The child should be comfortable and confident with the dog.

These tips aren’t meant to replace the quality and quantity of time you share with your dog. Think of them more as a supplement to help your dog deal with your “bad days”. Your dog will still need to spend active time with you like playing, training, and general cuddling. But with a little forethought and effort, you can go a long way towards ensuring her emotional and psychological welfare without adding too much to your own workload.

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