Valentine's Day is a time of year dedicated to expressing your love, affection and appreciation for those around you who you adore. Whilst the day is largely centred around the love that romantic couples have for each other, in recent years it has become more inclusive and about celebrating all kinds of love.
Just like humans, dogs can experience feelings of loneliness and jealousy. So this year, why not show your canine friends just how much they are loved too? In this guide, we reveal some of the signs and symptoms of a lonely dog and share some of our top tips on how to combat pet loneliness and jealousy around Valentines Day.
Dogs are highly social animals, who would generally prefer not to spend much time alone. A dog is for life, so it goes without saying that they will need your love and attention for as long as they are within your care.
Whilst we try to navigate our own work, social and love lives, our pets can sometimes feel secondary (of course they can’t tell us but there are definitely signs we can look out for). Dogs are capable of feeling a number of emotions, and sadly, loneliness is one of them. As dog’s aren’t able of telling us how they feel when talking about dog loneliness we are classifying a dog who is showing these signs as having separation anxiety.
Signs your dog may be lonely
As our furry friends cannot unfortunately communicate with us through words - they certainly try with woofs, they often tell us how they feel by showing their emotions. Here are a few key behaviours to look out for if you suspect that your dog may be feeling lonely:
#1 – Misbehaving or destructive behaviour
If you are often greeted by chewed up shoes and clothing, rubbish scattered around the house and food stolen from counter tops when you get home, then your dog is trying to send you a message! Since our canine friends cannot communicate with words, they communicate with us by displaying different behaviours to reflect their feelings. If your dog seems to be misbehaving more than usual, or as a result of certain situations, then this could be an indication of their unhappiness. This is one of the telltale signs that your dog is lonely.
#2 – Excessive barking or howling
Has your dog begun barking excessively or whining for longer periods of time? Have you received any complaints from your neighbours regarding noise from your dog while you are out of the house? If so, this could be a sign that your dog is calling out for attention. An animal seeking attention is often an indicator of loneliness.
#3 – Aggression or snappy behaviour
If your normally calm, loving and obedient dog is suddenly snappy, it’s important to discover the cause for your dog’s change in behaviour. There could be a number of causes, but this can often be a symptom of loneliness or due to an underlying feeling of separation anxiety.
#4 – Reduced appetite or energy level
If your dog is eating less, seems to have lost interest in food or isn’t as playful as they used to be, then this is a clear sign that something is wrong. For obvious reasons, we would recommend that your dog gets checked out by a vet to rule out physical ailments, however this could also be a sign of doggy depression or loneliness.
#5 – Messing inside the house
If your dog has begun leaving you “presents” inside the house or just seems to be less alert when they need to do their business, then this could be a sign that something isn’t right. While this could due to a medical issue, it is also a common symptom of stress. If your usually trained dog specifically waits until you’re away to do their business, then this is a clear signal that they do not want you to leave them home alone.
If your dog seems distressed and continues to display these behaviours and nothing seems to change, it could be worth seeking the advice of a canine behavioural specialist.
Dogs and jealousy
Sometimes our pets behave in a way that suggests they are jealous. Although animals do not experience jealousy in the true sense of the word, they may exhibit assertive, pushy, or rude behaviour.
Seeking our attention, jumping up when socialising with other people and animals, or even barking or growling, can all be seen as jealous-like behaviours.
A recent study found that dogs exhibited significantly more jealous behaviours (such as snapping, pushing or getting between their owner and object) when their owners displayed affectionate behaviours towards what appeared to be another animal or human.
Signs your dog may be jealous
Whilst many of the behaviours listed above may also be the sign of a jealous pet, there are a few other behaviours which could suggest that your dog is experiencing jealousy.
Paying extra attention to their owner
If your dog is cuddling up to you, jumping up, following you around, or is suddenly licking your hand or face, then this could be a sign of trying to get your attention. These behaviours are your dog showing you signs of affection, perhaps in the hopes that this affection will be reciprocated.
Doing a trick or displaying good behaviour
Sometimes our pets may try to display good behaviour or do a trick in order to impress their owner, in the hopes of receiving attention. If your pet knows that you respond well to them doing tricks, they may seek to get your attention by repeating this behaviour without being prompted.
Crowding your space
Animals will sometimes crowd around you or inhibit another person or animal from moving freely around you. For example, a dog may sit up and beg to try and get your attention or sit up on their hind legs.
This is a sure fire sign of demanding the attention of their owner and can often happen when their owner is part of a couple and is displaying signs of attention and affection behaviour for another being.
Sometimes, our pets may react in the complete opposite way by becoming withdrawn. This may come in the form of leaving the room, withdrawing from social interaction and not displaying as much excitement for activities they usually enjoy.
What causes such behaviours in pets?
The display of jealous-like behaviours in pets typically suggests boredom however it could also be that your pet is seeking your attention. Just like humans, dogs can feel insecure and may need reassurance.
They need attention, lots of reassurance, cuddles and activities to keep them busy and to keep them from being bored. Sometimes, our pets just want us and they don’t want to share us with another pet or person.
How to combat pet loneliness and jealousy
During the build up to Valentine’s Day and on the day itself, you may find yourself staring dreamily into the eyes of your partner. Or going out for drinks with your friends! The buzz and excitement of this time of year may leave your four-legged-friend feeling slightly left out.
If you think that your dog may be showing signs of loneliness, or jealousy, here are a few things you can do to remind them that they are loved…
Make sure that your pet knows they are loved by telling and showing them! Giving your pet lots of brushes, cuddles and tummy rubs, and displaying affirming, positive behaviour such as smiling, will help them know that they are loved.
Take them for a walk
Not only are walks a great way to keep your pet physically fit and healthy, but they are also a time for puppy and parent bonding. By taking your dog on regular walks (or extra walks!) they will get to enjoy some alone time with you, whilst also enjoying one of their favourite activities!
Give them a treat
Our furry friends know that they have done something good when they get a treat, but giving treats is also a great way to show your pet that you care. If you are used to treating your loved ones around Valentines, then why not purchase some special treats for your pup too? This could be something yummy or something fun, like a new toy that you can play with together.
Managing unwanted behaviours and keeping our pets mentally healthy are keys to avoiding unpleasant situations down the line. As paw-rents, it is important to tend to your pets emotional needs as well as their physical needs, too.
For more information on YuMOVE products and how they can help your dog maintain a healthy and active lifestyle, visit our products page.