Lots of people have to leave their dog home alone during the day (or night) while they work. They worry that their dog is lonely while they’re away. Perhaps you feel guilty about leaving your dog home alone. Maybe your dog cries when you leave the house. Or, maybe your dog has some behavior problems and destroys things while you’re gone. Sometimes people think that if their dog had a dog friend to play with while they were away the dog would be happier. What’s the real story?
First of all, ask yourself if your guilt is well-founded or not. Almost all of us have to work and that means dogs will be left alone at least part of the time. Realistically, we can’t spend every waking moment with our dogs and it wouldn’t be good for us or for our dogs if we did. You, as a human, need to have some life away from your dog. And your dog needs to have some down time when he’s not watching your every move waiting to see what you’re going to do. Your dog needs some time to relax on his own.
Believe it or not, most dogs sleep while their owners are away. Although your dog may greet you ecstatically at the door when you arrive home, chances are that five minutes earlier he was taking a nap. Your dog simply has excellent hearing. He most likely hears you pull your car in the driveway, or even drive down the road; he can hear you enter your apartment building. Your dog has plenty of warning so he can be waiting at the door to greet you. Most dogs do sleep and relax while you’re working so there’s no need to feel too guilty about leaving them alone. He doesn’t spend the day fretting and pining for you.
Of course, there are some exceptions. If your dog has separation anxiety, which is a psychological condition, then your dog may bark, whine, cry, defecate in the house and destroy things while you’re away from him. But you should know that there is a difference between genuine separation anxiety, which may require behavior modification and medication to treat, and a dog that is simply sad to see you leave for work. Your dog may bark and cry when you leave the house but as soon as you’re gone he may pick up a rawhide and start occupying himself or take a nap. If your dog does this then he probably doesn’t suffer from real separation anxiety. He knows how to cope with your absence.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t get a second dog as a playmate for your dog. Many dogs will enjoy having another dog to play with. But you should make sure that you have time for a second dog. If you’re already finding it hard to make enough time for one dog then two dogs can be even more demanding. There is twice the grooming, twice the exercise, twice everything. Plus, two dogs playing wildly in a house can get on your nerves sometimes. There are times that two dogs can be twice as naughty. Of course, they can also be twice as loving and comforting, too.
You should also consider your dog’s reaction to getting another dog. Not every dog likes to have a new dog come into the household. Dogs can be just as jealous and possessive as people can. If your dog is strongly bonded to you then he may not like the idea of sharing your time and attention with a new dog. In extreme cases two dogs may not get along at all and you may need to rehome one of them.
Even if your dog gets along well with other dogs in neutral places things could be very different if you bring a new dog into his home. Consider carefully before getting a second dog. It could take your dog a while to accept the newcomer and things could be tense until the dogs call a truce.
Getting a second dog as a playmate for your dog can be a good idea but it’s not something that you should rush into without thinking it through. Consider your situation and your time. Consider how your dog is likely to react. Then you may decide that your dog does need a friend but you’ll know you’ve made a good decision.
Tell us your experiences getting a friend for your dog in the comment section below.
Until next time…..