15 Signs That Your Dog Is Lonely

Our dogs are not just pets; they are family members who depend on us for love and companionship.

However, just like humans, dogs can experience loneliness, and it’s crucial for us to recognize the signs.

In this article, we’ll explore 15 signs that your dog is lonely, shedding light on their emotional world and helping you ensure their happiness and well-being.

Let’s dive into the world of canine emotions and learn how to provide our loyal companions with the care and attention they deserve.


While on the surface level, your dog following you around everywhere might seem adorable and simply a sign of their love for you, deeper down it could be a symbol of their loneliness.

Over-attachment, or “velcro dog” syndrome, can emanate from a fear of being alone and is often a red flag indicating separation anxiety.

So, when your Labrador or Golden Retriever, breeds known for their social nature and attachment to their human counterparts, exhibits extreme following behaviors, it may be more than just their loving nature shining through.

Changes In Appetite

Sometimes, when dogs feel lonely, they might eat more or maybe eat less than usual.

Imagine not feeling like eating your favorite snack or maybe eating too many cookies because you’re sad – dogs can feel like that too!

It’s super important for us to pay attention to how much they’re eating.

If your pup usually loves dinner time but suddenly isn’t interested in their food, it might mean they’re feeling lonely or a bit blue.

On the other hand, if they start eating way more than usual, that might also mean something’s up.

Excessive Barking Or Howling

Picture this: you know how sometimes when we humans feel a bit lonely, we might reach out to a friend or family member to chat?

Dogs have their own version of this – a vocal symphony of barks and howls!

Yep, that’s right, when our canine companions indulge in prolonged or unusually timed barking, it might be their way of whispering (or rather, shouting) into our ears that they’re feeling a bit lonely.

Dive into this thought a bit deeper.

Imagine being in a room, feeling kind of blue and wishing for some company to cheer you up.

Dogs, in their wonderfully expressive ways, might throw a vocal party of barks and howls to voice a similar wish.

But wait, isn’t barking just what dogs do?

Well, yes!

A bit of barking here and there is entirely in their nature.

But it’s the extra yaps, the ones that seem to go on a bit too long or happen at curious times, that might be signaling a paw of loneliness reaching out for some extra attention.

Pacing And Restlessness

Have you ever found yourself puzzled, observing your energetic canine friend seemingly wandering without purpose through the hallways of your home?

Pacing and restlessness are not only a physical exertion but a nuanced expression of emotional turmoil in our furry buddies.

An unusual amount of pacing, especially in patterns or in a confined area, unveils a hidden world of loneliness in your dog.

Surprising to some, when dogs experience solitude or emotional distress, their feet carry them in circles, almost reflecting our human tendency to meander when we’re engulfed in thoughts of isolation or worry.

This pacing isn’t merely an aimless wandering.

It’s a poignant echo of their silent plea for companionship and interaction.

Destructive Behavior

Picture this: You return home only to be greeted by a living room turned upside down with torn cushions and chewed-up slippers scattered around.

Your first instinct might be to scold your dog for such mischief.

But wait, is it mere mischief, or is it a canvas painting a story of their loneliness while you were away?

Destructive behavior, while seemingly impish on the surface, often conceals a deeper emotional discourse from our pets.

Dogs, when left in the solitude of their own company, sometimes channel their unmet emotional and social needs into a whirlwind of destruction, utilizing every chewable object as a medium to communicate their despair and loneliness.

In these moments of torn fabrics and scattered belongings, it’s crucial to look past the apparent chaos and into the eyes of your dog, which mirror a sea of emotions and unspoken words.

They’re not trying to be naughty.

No, they’re attempting to convey their solitude through the only means available to them – physical expression.

Loss Of Interest In Activities

We often assume that a lonely dog will engage in energetic antics to catch our attention.

But there’s a hidden truth that gets swept under the rug quite a lot: loneliness can also wrap our dogs in a bubble where even the most enticing activities fail to penetrate through their solemn state.

Let’s dive a little deeper into this.

It’s quite a common scene where an overly friendly person – we all know one – just doesn’t get the hint that someone needs a little space, right?

Similarly, we might mistake our dog’s quiet demeanor for peace or contentment, when in reality, they’re whispering a soft cry for emotional connection through their passive actions.

Ever noticed when your bouncy buddy doesn’t leap at the chance to go for a walk, or when the squeaky toy doesn’t conjure that usual sparkle in their eyes?

It’s not that they’ve gotten bored of these activities; it’s just that the weight of loneliness is dimming their enthusiasm for life’s simple joys.

Seeking Attention

Ever watched your dog trying to sneak into your Zoom calls or playfully nudging you while you’re amidst something important?

It’s cute but can be a little irksome, right?

But hang on!

There might be more to this cheeky behavior.

You see, when your four-legged friend acts this way – disrupting your work with barks, pawing you for attention, or the classic toy-in-the-lap move – they might not just be seeking playtime.

These seemingly naughty actions could very well be tiny, desperate pleas, saying: “Hey, I’m lonely, can you spare a moment for me?”

Imagine their world for a second.

When you’re not around, it can get pretty silent and maybe a tad too spacious in that living room for them.

Their barks, nudges, and playful antics are their only language, their sole way of whispering: “I need a friend right now.”

It’s not about them wanting to be the star of your daily life, but more about them trying to express that they sometimes feel isolated in their little doggy world, and your presence, your attention, is their safe haven.


When dogs experience loneliness and anxiety, they can sometimes resort to self-harming behaviors as a way to cope with their emotional distress.

Excessive scratching or biting at their own body can manifest as a physical response to their psychological turmoil.

This behavior can lead to various health issues, including skin irritations, open wounds, and infections.

It’s crucial for dog owners to recognize and address these signs promptly.

Self-harming behavior is often a cry for help, and seeking professional advice from a veterinarian or a certified dog behaviorist can help determine the underlying causes.

Escaping Or Trying To Get Out

Dogs are naturally social animals that thrive on companionship and interaction with other dogs and humans.

When they feel isolated or lonely, they may attempt to escape from their yard or home in search of companionship or stimulation.

This escape behavior can be dangerous, as it puts the dog at risk of injury, getting lost, or encountering hazardous situations like traffic.

To prevent this, it’s crucial for dog owners to ensure their pets have sufficient social interaction, mental stimulation, and exercise.

Excessive Licking Or Chewing

A dog constantly licking their paws or chewing objects around them isn’t merely engaging in a random activity.

Quite fascinatingly, this is a self-soothing technique, a mechanism they’ve devised to combat the emotional turmoil brimming within them.

Akin to certain human behaviors, such as nail-biting during stressful situations, a dog’s excessive licking or chewing mirrors their attempt to self-comfort and navigate through the rocky terrains of their loneliness or anxiety.

In fact, this behavior could be an expressive rendition of their silent song of solitude, where each lick or chew is a note that hums, “I feel alone, I need comfort.”

The objects they choose might carry your scent or be associated with a memory that provides them with a fleeting yet comforting illusion of companionship and safety.

Housebreaking Accidents

A house-trained dog suddenly having accidents indoors isn’t a blatant act of defiance.

Rather, it’s an SOS, a subtle plea, revealing their emotional chaos.

Dogs thrive on routines and consistency, and when this is disrupted, either physically or emotionally, it reflects in their behavior, including their toilet habits.

Hence, such mishaps should not be dismissed merely as ‘accidents,’ but rather understood as cries for help echoing from their silent world of loneliness and isolation.

Excessive Sleep

While the thought of your canine companion cozily wrapped up in dreams may paint a serene picture, an abrupt increase in their sleep duration could be signaling a desperate cry from a place of loneliness and despair.

Of course, you aren’t aware of the signs of loneliness, but this next one is a sign people often misinterpret and don’t see as a sign that your dog is lonely.

Ignoring Commands

A dog suddenly turning a deaf ear to your commands might not just be them being stubborn, but potentially a whisper of loneliness making its presence known.

Imagine this: your once obedient pal, who would enthusiastically respond to every “sit” and “stay,” now seemingly ignores your words, leaving you puzzled and slightly frustrated.

But delve a little deeper, and you might see a flicker of melancholy in their eyes, a subtle plea for more than just commands and routines.

Their disobedience may not be defiance but a silent protest against the solitude they’re feeling, their way of saying, “Hey, I’m feeling alone here and I need something more.” 

Social Withdrawal

Social withdrawal in dogs, much like in humans, often paints a picture not merely of a moody phase but a deeper, more poignant emotion veiled beneath their withdrawn demeanor.

Instead of romping about with other pups at the park or wagging their tail in sheer joy upon meeting people, they might opt for a quiet corner, their eyes perhaps reflecting a dash of unseen sorrow.

Aggressive Or Fearful Behavior

When our happy and fluffy dog buddies start acting mean or scared out of nowhere, it’s like a big, red warning sign.

It tells us something is really wrong and they need our help.

Imagine them yelling “Help!” without words – that’s what their sudden angry or scared behaviors are trying to say.

They’re not being bad or weird on purpose; they’re actually feeling super lonely and maybe even afraid.

Sometimes when they act this way, it’s because feeling lonely for too long has made them put up a kind of invisible shield to try to guard their sad, lonely feelings.

It’s super important for us to not get mad or avoid them when they act this way.

Instead, we should try to understand and help them feel safe and loved again.

Before You Go…

You now know the signs your dog is lonely.

If you want to learn more, read the following articles too!

Or watch this video:

Dimitra Kokologianni, DVM
Dimitra holds a Masters’s degree in public health and a Bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine. She is a versatile professional with over 7 years of experience. Her passion for animal welfare and preventive medicine makes her an excellent resource for our readers.