Why Does My Dog Suddenly Want to Be Alone?

By Anaëlle Laurent. Updated: November 20, 2020
Why Does My Dog Suddenly Want to Be Alone?

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Dogs are naturally pack animals that live in communities. They survive and thrive with other animals. This is why our dogs often follow us around experience separation anxiety when we leave for work or school. So, why is your dog suddenly wanting to be alone?

In this AnimalWised article, we're going to explain this behaviour in dogs and give you tips on how to help your dog in this situation.

You may also be interested in: How Long Can Cats Be Left Alone?

Do dogs need time alone?

Not necessarily. Dogs are social animals that thrive in their community. They will play, eat and sleep with their family. Dogs don't need time alone to reflect on their life or feelings, like humans do. This is why it's a strange behaviour when our dog suddenly wants to be alone.

With that being said, dogs can be left alone for a couple of hours without experiencing anxiety or depression, although some breeds are more prone to separation anxiety than others. However, if your dog is choosing to be alone, this is an indication that something is wrong.

Why Does My Dog Suddenly Want to Be Alone? - Do dogs need time alone?

Reasons why your dog suddenly wants to be alone

If your dog has suddenly started isolating themselves, it's normal to worry. In order to help them we first need to understand why they're behaving abnormally. The most common reasons why a dog may begin isolating themselves are the following:

Just like humans, dogs can experience mental health issues, such as anxiety or depression. A common problem in dogs is separation anxiety. This is because dogs are pack animals that feel safer and happier when with their tribe. In the case of a domestic dog, you are their tribe. Unfortunately, we cannot explain to our dog that we need to get to work or school. However, when left alone for many hours, dogs begin to feel anxious and even depressed.

Dogs can also feel depressed in certain situations, such as the loss of a loved one, whether it's another animal or human companion. In these cases, the dog will need lots of love and patience. The help of a canine behaviour specialist can also be helpful.

Another reason is a health issue. Dogs can isolate themselves because they are suffering from a health issue that is making them feel discomfort and pain. If you see that your dog is experiencing other symptoms, it's best to take them to the veterinarian to rule out any health problem they may be suffering form. The same goes with senior dogs as they are more prone to suffering from a disease or illness.

Thankfully, once we know why our dog is behaving strangely, we can begin to help them recover and go back to their old bubbly self. Continue reading to learn how to help your dog in this situation.

What you can do to help

Take them to the veterinarian

The first thing we need to do is rule out any health issues. This way, if our dog is ill we can have them properly examined, diagnosed and treated before their illness becomes serious. Their behaviour will then go back to how they were before, thanks to the fact that we have treated their health issue and the symptoms they were feeling.

Sometimes, the issue is age. In this case, your veterinarian will examine your senior dog to make sure that they don't have any underlying diseases. You can also ask them, what you can do to make your senior dog's quality of life better. For example, if your dog has arthritis and feels pain when eating, your veterinarian may recommend an elevated food bowl.

Make sure their environment is clean and comfortable

Take a look at their environment to make sure everything is okay. Maybe it's too cold, dirty or noisy, making your dog want to isolate themselves in order to feel safe and calm enough to rest. If you notice that they are cold, try turning on the furnace and adding blankets to their rest area.

In many cases, the issue is that there's a scary or bothersome noise that makes your dog isolate themselves in order to feel safe or calm. If it's fireworks, try to close all windows, curtains and doors in order to reduce the noise. We must remember that dogs have more sensitive ears than us. Learn more tips in our article about how to help a dog scared of thunder.

Another reason could be that your child is making a lot of noise and hurting your dog's ears. This will lead them try to find peace and quiet in another room, by themselves. It's important to note that dogs prefer company rather than being alone. So, it's important to find a solution to this issue so our dog can stay with us and have a happier and high quality life.

Why Does My Dog Suddenly Want to Be Alone? - What you can do to help

Help their mental health

Lastly, there are certain things you can do if your dog is suffering from anxiety or depression. If your dog is suffering from separation anxiety, you can try these simple tips:

  • Obedience training through positive reinforcement.
  • Not leaving them alone for more than 2 hours.
  • Try getting them a dog sitter or taking them to a dog care centre.
  • Spend enough time with them on walks or playing before you leave.
  • In extreme cases, contact your veterinarian to learn more about which medication can help.

On the other hand, if your dog is suffering from depression, you can try these simple tips:

  • Try walks in new places.
  • Make sure they have time to play with other dogs.
  • Spend more time playing with them.
  • Give them new toys or a new treat.
  • Make sure they have a high quality diet with no deficiencies.
  • Try not to leave them alone as it will make them more depressed.

If you continue to have issues, it's best to work with a canine behaviour specialist that will be able to help your dog's specific case. Taking them to the veterinarian is always a must whenever they start behaving abnormally. We also encourage you to watch our video below on how to make your dog feel happier!

If you want to read similar articles to Why Does My Dog Suddenly Want to Be Alone?, we recommend you visit our Basic care category.

  • Edward C. Senay. (1966). Toward an animal model of depression : A study of separation behavior in dogs,Journal of Psychiatric Research. Volume 4, Issue 1.
  • Flannigan G, Dodman NH. Risk factors and behaviors associated with separation anxiety in dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2001 Aug 15;219(4):460-6. doi: 10.2460/javma.2001.219.460. PMID: 11518171.
  • Takeuchi Y, Houpt KA, Scarlett JM. Evaluation of treatments for separation anxiety in dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2000 Aug 1;217(3):342-5. doi: 10.2460/javma.2000.217.342. PMID: 10935036.

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