No dog owner likes to leave their dog home alone. This can be a distressing situation for both you and your pet.
When your dog is lonely, sometimes they exhibit undesirable behaviors as they are unable to cope with being home alone. Common signs include:
Barking, whining, or howling soon after family members leave and perhaps all day
Elimination indoors even after having been outside before owners depart
Destruction, often near entrances and exits, but can be any items in any location
Rearranging owner possessions-taking owner scented items and carrying them around
If confined, intensive and perhaps injurious attempts to escape
Are those the only symptoms?
While some dogs show the profound symptoms listed above, others may show subtler signs of distress:
Behavioral depression; the dog does not move, eat, or drink when home alone
Hiding, or acting upset when owners get ready to depart
Extreme excitement when owners return, regardless of how long they have been gone
Distress signs when home alone only during frightening situations, such as storms or fireworks, and not at other times
How can I find out if this is happening to my dog?
Use a smart phone, camera, or tablet to make a video recording of your dog when you leave the house
To be most accurate, you must actually be away for at least 5 to 10 minutes
If you see signs of distress, contact your veterinarian for help
What can I do to help my dog when he's lonely?
If your dog is experiencing destructive behaviors or is barking excessively, consult a veterinarian for a behavioral modification plan.
Be aware this situation may take months to resolve, depending on the severity of the distress. For best results, everyone in the family needs to be prepared to stick to the plan.
Studies* on Adaptil have shown that utilizing a collar or diffuser when first bringing a puppy into a new home can help it settle faster with less distress.
Studies* have also shown that Adaptil can be useful when bringing home a dog from a rescue center or shelter.
Adaptil Diffusers have been shown* to help calm dogs when lonely, especially when used in conjunction with a behavior modification plan.
Use either an Adaptil Diffuser and/or an Adaptil Collar to provide calming pheromones 24/7.
*Gaultier E, Bonnafous L, et al. Efficacy of dog-appeasing pheromone in reducing stress associated with social isolation in newly adopted puppies. The Veterinary Record, 2008, pp 73 – 80.
Taylor K., Mills DS, A placebo-controlled study to investigate the effect of Dog Appeasing Pheromone and other environmental and management factors on the reports of disturbance and house soiling during the night in recently adopted puppies. Applied Animal Behavior Science 104 (2007) pp 358-368.
Gaultier E., Bonnafous L., Bougrat L., et al. Comparison of the efficacy of a synthetic dog-appeasing pheromone with clomipramine for the treatement of separation-related disorders in dogs. Veterinary Record, 2005, 156, pp 533-538.
This video provides advice on how to help your dog cope when home alone.
Additional tips to help your dog adapt to being home alone:
Provide your dog with somewhere safe to be when you are not at home, e.g., a dog bed, a room, or even a crate/den (only if your dog is not upset or destructive when confined)
Use an Adaptil Collar or plug in an Adaptil Diffuser where your dog will spend their time alone. If your dog is destructive – plug the diffuser in an outlet that is out of reach of your dog)
If your dog is outdoors, use an Adaptil Collar. The collar should fit snugly, with no more than two fingers between the neck and the collar.
Adaptil should be continued for at least a month after your dog has learned to adapt to time on their own.
Reward your dog for demonstrating relaxed behaviors – train the cue "down" and reward calm behavior in this position and the safe location
Ensure that your dog has had enough exercise and has been outside to eliminate before being left home alone
Leave your dog a fun toy or food puzzle to keep him occupied as you depart.
Keep your departures and returns calm and quiet. Just say “goodbye” and leave; speak a soft "hello" when you return.
If your dog is destructive or eliminates while you are gone, never punish him. This will only increase its distress.
If these steps are not effective, contact a veterinary professional for additional help and advice.
Where can you buy an Adaptil Collar or Diffuser? Click here.
WE RECOMMEND: Adaptil Diffuser and Collar
The Adaptil Collar is activated by body heat and releases the calming pheromone constantly, even when the dog is outside....