Dogs are pack animals! It is therefore in their nature not to be loners. If an animal is abandoned by the pack, then there is good reason. Usually the dog is too weak or too sick to keep up with its fellow dogs and dies. A healthy dog integrated into the pack is seldom left alone.
Every dog has the primal fear of being left behind. Remaining alone is not provided for in the structure of the social association of these animals. So it is obvious that he is always trying hard to keep up. This is a completely natural behavior.
Even as a puppy, dogs develop a sense of loss. As soon as they are separated from their mother and siblings in the wild, this means certain death for them (if a person does not intervene). Even the still blind and not fully mobile puppies seek protection from their mother and thus ensure their survival. Dogs have not lost this behavior and the need for security even after domestication.
Some dogs, even when they are fully grown, panic again and again when there is no response to their contact screams. Because even if a dog is always ready to adapt to human living conditions, there is one thing that it does not tolerate well: staying alone.
Young dogs shouldn’t have to be left alone for long. © stock.adobe.com/Jess Wealleans
In most of the guidebooks a whole chapter is devoted to the subject of “leaving your dog alone”. Many dog trainers offer special training courses to take away the dog’s fear of being alone and to make waiting for the owner bearable. The demand for animal sitters, child minders and animal boarding houses is also increasing.
But caution is advised here! Because loneliness has a negative effect on the health of dogs. Dog psychologists and veterinarians associate many serious behavioral disorders and diseases with the loneliness of the affected dog. In fact, there are now even drugs that are supposed to counteract the animal’s depression.
And yet there are more and more dogs for whom being alone for two hours means a lot of stress. They whine and whine to the point of total exhaustion, dismantle the apartment and develop severe behavioral disorders. They paint themselves sore, nibble their paws or chase their own rod. Is it all a matter of upbringing? Or race disposition? Or not being challenged in everyday life? There are no thorough studies on this.
So how long can and should a dog stay alone? One hour, four hours, eight hours? Is there a period of time that makes waiting reasonable and when does it become torture for the animal? There are many opinions on this. All the experts agree on one thing: For purely physical reasons, young dogs should be left alone for a maximum of two hours. In addition, an hour-long separation should be avoided in the first few weeks in the new home.
When it comes to adult dogs, however, opinions differ greatly. Some think that an otherwise well-utilized dog sleeps four hours in familiar surroundings just fine. Others believe that eight hours is no problem for a dog in the garden that it is supposed to guard – if it has full human contact for the remaining 16 hours. And two dogs are busy with each other and survive around six hours without frustration.
But one thing is very important here! You should always make sure that the animal is given plenty of exercise to let off steam after its lonely time. In this way you can also avoid under-demanding the dog.
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