4 min read


Can Dogs Feel Alienation?



4 min read


Can Dogs Feel Alienation?


Contrary to popular belief, our doggos have the ability to feel emotions just like we humans do, whether it be anger, joy, or anxiety. We often hear terrible stories about our canine companions who were abandoned by previous owners, owners who didn't take the time to form lasting bonds or didn't act responsibly in adopting a dog before a big move. 

Dogs have sadly been left to the streets or shelters, only to feel alienated by their owners. Thanks to the kind hearts of rescue organizations like the Humane Society or Rescue Dogs Rock, these furry friends are given the love and companionship they deserve. 

So while it is quite possible for dogs to feel alienated and left behind, let's delve into the research and signs behind dogs feeling alienated by their owners.


Signs That Your Dog Feels Alienated

After adopting a pup, it may take some time to bond with your doggo and really build a relationship of trust. While patience and love are the tools to working past and feelings of alienation, there are some obvious signs you may observe in your pup that suggest your dog is not coping well and continues to feel left behind.

One of the most obvious ways to realize that your dog is feeling alienated is by how your dog behaves when you leave the house. For instance, you may hear whining and barking as you head towards the door or your dog may begin the zoomies as you say goodbye. Once you return home, furniture or shoes may be chewed up, walls and doors may be scratched and pawed at, or puddles of urine may surround the house. These are all classic signs of separation anxiety, and that your beloved doggo is feeling alienated and alone.

Unfortunately, we can't explain to our pups that we will be back soon, and that they shouldn't worry in our absence. While there are no easy answers, there are a few steps you can take as a loving owner to help ease your beloved pooch into being comfortable with its new home. Read on!

Body Language

Some signs that your furry friend is feeling alienated may include:

  • Growling
  • Barking
  • Whining
  • Shaking
  • Panting
  • Howling
  • Wag Tail
  • Pacing
  • Back Hair On Edge
  • Dropped Ears

Other Signs

Some other signs of separation anxiety may include:

  • Urinating Around The House
  • Hiding
  • Chewing Up Furniture Or Shoes
  • The Zoomies

The History Behind Dogs Feeling Alienated


It has been suggested that a dog's ability to feel alienated could go back to the early integration between wolves and man. The attachment and love between dogs and humans has evolved as we've made dogs our canine companions. 

When a dog is left behind, whether it be on the streets or in a shelter, it goes through various stages of grief, wondering what has happened to their owner and whether their best friend is coming back. Similarly to humans, dogs can feel despair and detachment as the dog that once had a home tries to adjust to a new life.  

The moral of the story is that the bond a dog feels for its human is everlasting. Maybe this is why dogs are considered man's best friend.

The Science Behind Dogs Feeling Alienated


Animal behaviorists believe that our dogs are the most connected species to humans, so to truly understand how an alienated pup feels, we need to dig into the minds of dogs. Research shows that doggo brains are structured similarly to ours - capable of feeling a wide range of emotions. Our doggos also have the same hormone - oxytocin - that stimulates feelings of love, but is similarly felt the way of a 2.5-year-old toddler.

Helping Dogs Who Feel Alienated


While it takes patience and determination to work through a dog's separation anxiety, there are a number of tips you can utilize to help ease your doggo's feelings of alienation.

  1. Leaving behind an old T-shirt or a blanket that smells like you may help add a level of comfort
  2. If you adopt a dog and have the chance to speak with the prior owner or foster mom, you can see what really makes your doggo happy,  whether it be walks, playing catch, or playdates with other dogs.
  3. Talk to your doggo as much as possible; a loving voice can go a long way. Feeling comforted and loved can be soothing to a dog who is feeling abandoned. 
  4. Additionally, lots of cuddles and attention while you are home lets your dog know that it is loved
  5. Try giving your doggo a toy or a treat before you go!

Once you see a positive change in your doggo's behavior, you can try taking short trips away from your home. Short trips allow your dog to understand that you left, but are coming home. Teaching your doggo to sit or stay while you close the bedroom door can help your doggo feel less stressed and eventually, you can work up to the front door, giving your pooch a toy before you go. 

The idea is to ease your pup's fear that they are about to be left behind, so building slowly up to the regular number of hours you're away can take a couple of weeks if properly done. Building your absence into a routine will help your pup get normalized to being alone. 

Additionally, many dogs that have been abandoned exhibit food aggression behaviors and may even tear up the house. Give your pup time to get familiar and comfortable, as this is a dog with real fear. Your pup simply needs time to feel safe again.

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By Olivia Gerth

Published: 05/25/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

Wag! Specialist
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