Can Dogs Feel Lonely?
It may seem a little sad to see your dog playing alone, Dogs do enjoy company and interaction and some owners may feel they need to provide a playmate by getting a second dog. But, is this necessary? In this article Holidays4Dogs asks is it normal and acceptable for dogs to play by themselves?
Playing is an important aspect of any dog’s life, be that with their owner, other dogs, or by themselves. However, learning to entertain themselves alone is very useful ability and good for the dog’s well-being.
Even when they are alone, play provides good mental and physical enrichment for dogs. It can help to reduce anxiety and stress at times when they have to be left alone. Studies carried out by Bristol University have shown that dogs who engage in play are less prone to behaviour problems. Separation anxiety, aggression and general inability to focus are seen less in dogs able to engage in play.
Learning through play.
When puppies are with their litter mates they learn a great many skills through play. They learn social interaction and communication skills. In addition, puppies learn not to be too rough. Chasing games provide them with physical exercise and agility.
Eventually, the pup leaves his litter mates and has to learn to spend time on his own. The abilities learned through play can help him to self-sooth and occupy his time.
Like people, some dogs are better at doing things by themselves than others and some dogs need to be taught how to play. Rescue dogs that have lacked socialisation, have been bred in poor conditions, or taken from their litter mates too soon, can have difficulty with play skills. This is especially so when they are on their own.
Learning new games.
However, you can encourage your dog to play on his own by first engaging his interest while you play with him. Movement, such as a rolling ball, or a soft toy tossed into the air, will usually gain the interest of the average dog. Interactive toys filled with food are also good for encouraging play and stimulating your dog’s brain.
Have a variety of different toys and rotate them on a regular basis. Lastly, when your dog is playing by himself with toys, always make sure he doesn’t have anything he can destroy, or ingest.
Should we get another dog?
It is important to think very carefully before getting another dog. If your existing dog has issues, such as separation anxiety, getting another dog is unlikely to cure this. Many people believe adding another dog to the family will provide existing dogs with a play-mate.
While this may be true, it can often mean double trouble! However, a compromise could be to become a carer for Holidays4Dogs! You will have all of the fun and benefits without the financial outlay, or long term commitment.
Dogs can certainly have just as much fun entertaining themselves, but they will also benefit hugely from playing games with their owner. Don’t forget to have fun playing with your dog as well!