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OUR ANIMALS, OURSELVES: Yes, dogs get lonely

November 28, 2019
By ANNOEL KRIDER , Lake Placid News

Working from home was a luxury I enjoyed for years. My studio windows looked out over the perennial gardens where I would watch my cat roll around in the catnip plant. Whenever my dog wanted some needed attention he'd simply let me know and out we would go for our midday walk.

It all changed when I started working at the Whiteface Club & Resort creating gardens which took away from time at home and my animals. Not wanting to leave my dog home alone, the opportunity to bring him to work soon became an option, so that's what I did. There I was, cruising around the property on my garden cart creating gardens with Laddie at my side. However there were times when I wanted to leave him at home so I could focus more on my work, but I soon realized I was thinking about him being alone more than my work so I ended up cutting my work day short.

For me, the solution was easy. Get a second dog so they would keep one another company. There was still the issue of relieving themselves outside, so I had a dog door created and a secure fence installed so they could go in and out at will and play, get some sunshine and not have to "hold it." People for eons have always left their dogs home alone all day long without a second thought. Their response was that the dogs were fine. But were they?

Article Photos

(Provided photo — Annoel Krider)

What actually was happening was that the dogs had no choice, so they simply had to cope. It's not an ideal scenario and can create stress and anxiety.

According to an article I recently read in Whole Dog Journal, "10-12 hours is too long for a dog to be alone in a single stretch." Puppies under 14 weeks of age should never be left home alone. This is an important time for them to interact with people and dogs so they can grow into a well socialized animal.

Dogs also shouldn't be asked to "hold it" more than four to six hours, and if the dog is sick or a puppy it's even less time.

However, the reality is most people work an eight-hour day. With travel time and maybe after work grocery shopping or a drink with friends, this adds up. What does one do when having a dog in your life is important? There is nothing like returning home to a dog who lavishes you with love, kisses and a welcome that defies all others. It's something to consider when you bring a dog into your world. Realize that an effort has to be made to give that animal the best life it could possibly have. It's not necessarily about you having a dog in your life, but it's also about your dog having a good life with you.

I'll interject here that crating your dog is no place for him to spend an entire day. Just because he may go into the crate willingly on occasion doesn't mean he wants to spend the day there. A couple hours tops is the acceptable length of crate time.

Also, tethering your dog all day long outside is against the law in Essex County.

So here are some solutions.

Doggie day care. If you work five days a week, then a once a week play time with other dogs can help break up that monotonous time alone.

You could come home for lunch and walk your dog or hire a dog walker to come in daily to give your dog that time to relieve himself, interact with a human and get some exercise. If not a paid dog walker, think about rounding up your friends and relatives. I personally would often help out my neighbor whenever his dog was going to be alone for long stretches of time. If you love dogs, you are happy to help another's animal family member.

Finally, maybe you can work from home now and then or take your dog to work.

There was once held the belief that when out of sight out of mind, that dogs don't have a concept of time. Well, I can assure you this isn't so. If I leave the house for an hour and return, I get a casual tail wag greeting from my dogs, then off they go. If I've been gone hours, the greeting is "WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN!!!!" combined with a massive display of jumping and kissing. Yes, dogs get lonely and convincing yourself otherwise is at the detriment of your dog. Do you want a happy dog or a dog who has simply learned how to cope with loneliness?

I'm back to working at home with my dogs and cats weaving in and out of my days. I consider myself and the animals fortunate for this time together and none of us are lonely.



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