Is she too lonely? Buddy suggestions?

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Is she too lonely? Buddy suggestions?

This is a discussion on Is she too lonely? Buddy suggestions? within the Dog Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; I've had my shih tzu, Mitzi, for just over two months now. I think she's been doing pretty good. She's gotten really attached to me, ...

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Old 08-23-2016, 07:50 PM
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Is she too lonely? Buddy suggestions?

I've had my shih tzu, Mitzi, for just over two months now. I think she's been doing pretty good. She's gotten really attached to me, and I don't think she misses her old owners at all (not enough to be unhappy, at least). The problem is that I work full time and live alone, so whenever I go to work she's left alone. I always come home on my lunch breaks to feed and walk her, but that still leaves four hour intervals when she's by herself. Usually she just sleeps through it and seems fine when I get back. Lately, though, I've been noticing that she's been whining and pawing at the door when I leave and she won't eat until I get home. Is she getting too lonely by herself? Will she be okay it stays this way, or does something need to be done?

If something has to be done, I suppose the obvious solution would be to get another dog to keep her company when I'm gone. I don't know if I can afford a second dog, though. Heck, for all I know my apartment complex could have a rule against owning more than one dog. Same with a cat, probably. Does anybody know of a cheap, low maintenance animal that might be able to provide Mitzi a little company while I'm away? I don't know, maybe something like a hamster, guinea pig, or a rat?
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Old 08-23-2016, 09:53 PM
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Sounds like separation anxiety if she's not eating.

How about a cat?
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Old 08-24-2016, 04:12 AM
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Just because Mitzi is small, does not mean she will not have prey drive and harm small animals or in the case of a rat, the small animal will not harm her if the rat feels threatened. And two dogs do not always get along. I have more than one dog, I would not leave them loose together if I left the house.
I think before debating the pros and cons of an additional dog or cat you should research your apartment rules.
There are dog day cares where staff is on hand to monitor play times.
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Old 08-24-2016, 05:51 AM
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I like @Lucillle's doggy daycare suggestion. At the center I work at, we have a lot of regulars who aren't there so much to burn energy, but because they don't like being at home alone for a long time.
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Old 08-24-2016, 07:34 AM
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As a small animal lover, I have to let you know that if taken care of properly they are not cheap or low maintenance, nor would they be able to keep your dog company.

Some quick information on needs:
Hamster (the least maintenance) - Prey animal, would be terrified of your dog. Takes a while to hand tame. Needs a large and enriching habitat (no smaller than a 40 gallon tank). Fed everyday, including fresh food introduced slowly so to not upset tummy. Needs out of cage time in a play pen to help hand taming, bonding, and as another form of enrichment.

Guinea pig: You need more than one. They are herd animals, and need the companionship of their species. These are my heart animal, but they require extensive care and they aren't cheap. Each pair needs at least 8 square feet of cage space, and that's the bare minimum (it's suggested that a pair of males as no less than 12 square feet of space). They too need out of cage time daily, though. Each pig needs 1 cup of a variety of vegetables daily, a good quality pellet feed, and unlimited meadow grass hay - and they eat a LOT of hay. Their feeding needs are very pricey. They also poop a lot, it's nearly impossible the potty train a guinea pig (most use kitchen areas as a cheat), so clean up is a lot of work too. If you want to use bedding, that's another big expense. A lot of people use fleece + an absorbent layer to cut down on bedding costs, but that adds time because now you have added laundry and it tends to stink up quicker. They also need grooming care, such as occasional baths and they need their nails cut 1-2x a month. They are also prey animals and will be afraid of your dog (Out of my 6, I had one bossy girl who wasn't afraid of the dogs)

Rats: Although I don't have them personally yet, I plan to someday so I've done a lot of research. Again, they need a lot of space and outside time (the Critter Nation is a great space if you consider getting them). Like guinea pigs, they are colony animals so you need to get at least two. They eat a variety of fresh foods and also need a pellet feed. They are very playful and trainable, and easily form connections with their people. I would never leave them unsupervised with your dog though. The dog may harm them, and if they feel frightened they will fight your dog. They also shouldn't free roam in an entire house, they can easily get lost. People do let them free roam, but the rooms are rat-proofed first.

If you want more information on any of them, feel free to shoot me a message. They're great little animals to have, but they are not low maintenance, cheap, or serve as a companion for your dog.

ETA: I forgot about vet care! All three are considered exotic animals, so a regular small animal vet (i.e.: small animal = cat and dog) would not be able to provide their care. You would need to see an exotic vet, which is really pricey. Also, seeing as they're prey animals they hide their illnesses and injuries very well, so once you notice anything it's already very serious and you need to get them in ASAP. To put this into perspective, I had to bring one of my guinea pigs to the vet once.... it cost over $600.

Last edited by Jenibelle; 08-24-2016 at 07:37 AM.
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Old 08-24-2016, 01:39 PM
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I agree doggie day care should be your starting point. Acquiring another animal may only compound your problems.
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Old 08-24-2016, 03:05 PM
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I agree on the daycare. I drop off my pup to daycare 1-2 times a week and on the days that I don't, I come home at lunch and burn off her energy for 20 mins playing fetch and doing some obedience.

I got a second dog because I wanted a second dog, not because I wanted a companion for my older one. They get along relatively well as in they can co-exist but they will never be best friends. Mia has her own puppy/young dog friends and daycare to socialize and play. If you're already working full time and lack the time to spend with your pup now, getting a second one is not a good idea. You can't rely on your 2nd dog to do your work for you and keep your 1st one occupied. Human companionship is still different from dog companionship.

Cost greatly increase with a second dog, more vet bills, more dog food, more toys. Not only that, you'll have to deal with potential conflicts with two dogs such as resource guarding, fights etc.

A note on daycare: make sure you find a daycare where there is always someone in the same room as the dogs to watch/monitor them. Before I found the one I take Mia to now, I checked out a couple of other daycares where it was a total free for all. Pee and poop everywhere, dogs running around with no attendants. All the staff were in a separate room looking at the TV monitors! I couldn't believe it!

I was lucky that Mia's trainer also owns a dog daycare so she knows my pup well and there is always someone there to watch them and clean up messes immediately.
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