Why Do Dogs Spend Time Alone?

why do dogs spend time alone
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    Dogs quickly become part of the family, and we build strong bonds with our pets. So, when our dogs are isolating themselves from us, it’s not surprising that we’d be worried. 

    There are many reasons why dogs spend time alone, from their personality to mirroring your feelings, doggy depression to age. But just because your dog wants to spend time alone doesn’t mean that there is something sinister going on. We all need a bit of alone time now and then! 

    Still, other reasons require investigating to get to the root of the problem. So, let’s take a look at some reasons why your dog might want to spend time alone. 

    What Does It Mean When Your Dog Wants To Be Alone?

    There are plenty of reasons why your dog might want to be alone. Let’s take a look at seven possible explanations for your dog wanting to be alone. 

    1. Personality Traits

    Some dogs just like being alone in their own company. Just like some humans are more sociable than others, dogs can vary from outgoing to independent. This is often a result of selective breeding.

    For example, the Chow Chow is not as outgoing as Golden Retrievers – some even liken their personalities to a cat’s. 

    Dogs that do individualized jobs, such as herding, can also develop a loner streak. This is because they spend so much of the day on their own. This trait can be inherited and passed down through the generations, even showing up in puppies.

    2. Doggy Depression

    Dog depression is easier to determine than human depression since dogs cannot hide their emotions. If your dog is suddenly uninterested in things that they used to love, like going for a walk or playing fetch, they might be suffering from depression. 

    Doggy depression can develop after a life-changing event, like moving house or the loss of an owner. This could be a reason for the sudden isolation. 

    3. Mirroring Your Feelings

    Linking back to the previous point, most dogs are very intuitive and can read your emotions. This is thanks to thousands of domesticated years living together. 

    If you find yourself wanting to be alone, your dog might also want to spend time by themselves. Dogs have lots of the same hormones as humans, so we act more similarly to dogs than you first might think! 

    4. Other Mental Health Issues

    While your dog might not be dealing with doggy depression, there could be other mental health reasons why they’re isolating themselves. 

    If your dog is adopted, it might have triggers that set off negative emotions for them. It helps to get a detailed history of your dog so that you can identify these triggers easier and keep them away from your dog as much as possible. 

    5. Illness

    One of the more common reasons why dogs might spend time alone is because they’re ill. Just like you don’t want to socialize when you’re feeling ill, dogs might take themselves away from the hustle and bustle of daily life to recuperate. 

    Dogs also hide away when they’re not feeling well so that predators cannot get to them. A telltale sign of this is them hiding in places they wouldn’t normally go. Make a note of where your dog is hiding so that you can keep an eye on them. 

    6. Pain

    Similar to the above reason, dogs might also seek out their own space when they’re in pain. Again, think about whether you’d want to socialize with others if you were in pain. 

    If a dog knows that it’s vulnerable, it will hide from threats and predators. They’ll also probably be scared and worried and need space to work through these emotions. 

    Bear in mind that if a dog is in pain, it might snap at you or growl. This is a simple survival instinct, so don’t think that they don’t love you. Leave them alone as much as possible while still checking on them every now and then. 

    7. Aging Dogs

    If your dog is getting older, it might prefer to spend time on its own. They’re not as nimble as they once were and can’t run as fast or chase a ball as far. They might have less energy and enjoy their own company more. 

    Aging dogs like to take more naps, so they might simply be looking for a quiet place to take a snooze. 

    Older dogs might also develop ailments like arthritis, which can cause pain in their joints. This might leave them feeling uncomfortable, so they’ll spend some time alone until the pain subsides.

    sad dog puppy wanting to be cuddled after being alone

    Do Dogs Want To Be Alone When They Are Sick?

    Whether your dog wants to be alone while they’re sick is all dependent on their personality. Much like humans, some want to be cuddled and doted on while they’re sick, and others want to be alone until they’re feeling better. 

    Having said that, it is more common for dogs to want to be alone when they are sick. This is because, despite them being domesticated, dogs still have natural instincts hardwired into them that sick animals are weaker and easier targets for prey. 

    So, when your dog is feeling sick, it might hide away to protect itself while they’re recovering and cannot defend itself as effectively as it would if they were fit and healthy. 

    This doesn’t mean that you have to leave them alone, though. You should come and check on your dog every so often to make sure that they are not getting worse or need to see a vet. 

    Checking On Your Ill Dog

    First, find where they’re hiding. Ill dogs will often seek out new hiding spots that are unsuspecting of predators. Once you find your dog, make sure you approach them calmly and slowly. 

    Your dog might be suffering from confusion or hallucinations if they have a fever, so you need to make sure that they know you’re you and not a threat. If they are hidden in a dark spot, turn a soft light on so that they can see you. 

    As you approach them, talk softly as you usually would to them, praising them and ensuring you keep a kind voice. 

    Get on their level, whether that’s sitting down or on the floor, so that you’re not intimidating them with your size. Keep talking to them as you try to pet them and check their illness. 

    What If Your Dog Bites When Ill?

    Dogs biting and growling is another common instinct hardwired into them from their undomesticated days. It is a simple mechanism to keep them safe from predators. Again, your dog might not be in their right mind when they’re ill, so it might be confusing as to who you are. 

    Don’t take this personally. Your dog will remember who you are and return to its normal loving self as soon as they are feeling better. 

    For now, though, if your dog bites you while you’re trying to check on them, don’t react badly. Understand that they are confused and ill – we can all get a bit snappy when we’re feeling under the weather, right? 

    Continue to check on them, but perhaps keep your distance until they’re feeling slightly better. 

    Why Is My Dog Suddenly Distant?

    There are a number of reasons why your dog might be distant – do you feel like you’ve annoyed your pooch in some way? 

    The good news is that dogs are not capable of assigning motives to emotions. So, while it is possible that your dog is mad or upset, it cannot be mad at you. 

    Your dog is not necessarily being distant from you on purpose. They’re not trying to get a reaction out of you, and they won’t even understand that their change in behavior is affecting you. 

    The most common reason why dogs suddenly become distant is that they’re either ill or tired. If your dog is still being distant after a nap, consider taking them to the vet to see if they’re ill.

    Remember that dogs can be distant due to physical or mental illnesses, so while there might be nothing wrong with your dog physically, make sure to look out for signs of doggy depression or anxiety. 

    Helping Your Dog Through Doggy Depression

    Dogs can often overcome depression or anxiety on their own. Depending on what caused the issue, this could take days or months. However, we could all use a little help now and then, and you can help treat doggy depression so that your pet doesn’t feel so alone. 

    Here are a few techniques that can help alleviate the symptoms of mental illness in dogs: 

    • Give your dog plenty of attention. We’re all guilty of being too busy to give our dogs attention all day long. But some dogs suffering might simply need to amp up that human connection. Give them plenty of affection until they start showing happy behaviors, then praise them for that behavior. 
    • Keep offering walks, playtimes, and fun activities. While your dog might not want to go on a walk, it will be good for their mental health to get out there in the fresh air. Regular outdoor time is both fun, relaxing, and extra time with you, which dogs love. 
    • Consider getting them a friend. Some dogs suffer from depression due to feeling lonely. If you think that this is why your dog is upset, why not get them another doggy companion? 

    Why Is My Dog Sitting Away From Me?

    While it might not seem like it, your dog sitting away from you is actually a good thing! It means that they can trust you enough to sit with their back to you. This indicates that they are secure enough in your connection that they don’t think you’ll harm them while looking away from them. 

    Dogs often sit away from you to show you how they are putting themselves in a vulnerable position before you. They do this as a sign of respect and companionship as they trust you. 

    While you might think that your dog was sitting away from you as if it was mad or upset, your dog is really trying to tell you how much they love you. How cute is that? 


    Overall, there are many reasons why dogs spend time on their own. Some of these reasons are completely harmless, such as getting old or it being a personality trait of theirs. 

    However, some other reasons require attention, such as pain, illness, or mental health issues. 

    You can talk to your vet about any of these concerns if you think this is the reason why your dog is suddenly isolating itself. 

    Dogs like to be alone when they’re sick, as they need to hide away from predators who might pounce on their vulnerability. Check on them carefully to make sure they’re not getting sicker, but give them enough space so as not to stress them out further.

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