Is your dog lonely when you are with them?

Dog staring at mobile in owner's hand - is your dog lonely when you are with them? - 4 Legs Photography

As pet parents many of us will have experienced the guilt of walking out the door in the morning to go to work, knowing we are leaving our dog for the day. You know the dog walker will be in to take them out for an hour’s wander, but you worry if they’ll be bored while you’re out. But, have you ever wondered how lonely your dog is when you’re with them?

Anyone who’s heard of clicker training knows that dogs associate noises with certain behaviours. You ask a dog to sit, they sit, you use the clicker, and a treat appears. Of course, a simpler example would be the appearance of your furry family on the rustling of a food bag! Noises elicit responses

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Many will have heard of Pavlov’s dog [if you haven’t then take a look here]. Pavlov’s dog learnt that by ringing a bell he would be getting food which caused him to salivate. The response became so conditioned, that even with no food being present the bell still caused the dog to salivate.

Bring that concept forward to modern society. How often have you been interacting with your dog for your phone to ping? You stop the interaction and pick your phone up, maybe it’s for a second or maybe the dreaded Facebook distracts you and you’re there on your phone for the foreseeable future. If you repeat that behaviour enough times then the dog learns that the ping of your phone means the removal of attention. You see it time and time again in human social interactions. You can be mid-conversation with someone and regardless of what you were talking about, if their phone makes a noise, attention is immediately removed and their phone becomes their sole focus.

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So the next time you are interacting with your dog and your phone pings, just stop and think how it feels when someone stops talking to you mid-conversation to look at their phone. Dogs don’t understand the technological lives we lead these days, all they know is that ping means they’re on their own.

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