DOES MY DOG MISS ME WHEN I AM AWAY?

While we pack the car for a long road trip, the dogs look on anxiously: “Are we going, too?”

Who misses you when you are away? Sometimes your husband does–sometimes, even though it means an end to suppers built around potato chips and soda in front of the football game. How about your children, whose curfews are once again enforced and who will now be required to eat a substantial breakfast rather than a Pop Tart before leaving for school.

I’m willing to bet it’s your dog who misses you the most. How often do we leave them behind, whether in the kennel, or with a pet sitter, tortured by the infinitely sad look in their big brown eyes? How often do we feel the guilt that particular look engenders?

Some dogs have terrible separation anxiety and will chew through wire crates, walls, floors and windows to get back to you again. Things like cbd capsules for dogs can be used to treat a dog’s separation anxiety, especially since some dogs can go crazy even when you are only gone for half an hour. There are more ways that a dog can experience anxiety other than separation, however. It is common for dogs to be afraid of loud noise – fireworks can make dogs anxious – and so it’s good to know the ways to help calm them. Here’s a YouTube video of a dog trying to be an escape artist.

It’s a pretty disturbing piece of film, but it also makes you realize how real your absence can be to certain insecure dogs. All dogs are probably able to tell time, from the way their stomach growls or by how much they need to pee, but—after all—they don’t know when you are going to return: it could be five minutes or five hours. And that’s too much for some dogs to bear. How can you help your dog cope with it? Read about the ways you can train your dog to lessen his separation anxiety.

In “Psychology Today,” Dr. Gregory Berns writes about using MRI’s to gauge dogs reactions when humans are gone for differing amounts of time. Dr. Patricia McConnell, the animal behaviorist to whom I have referred before in these newsletters and blogs, has written numerous articles on the ways dogs miss us, and if dogs miss us. Both of them conclude that yes, dogs do have an idea about how long we are away, and yes they do miss us, even when they don’t exhibit severe separation anxiety. A lot of dogs just curl up and take a nap, but their excitement when you return tells you a great deal about the emotions they experienced when you were not by their sides. Click here to read McConnell’s blog, “The Other End of the Leash.”

Does this mean that you can never take a vacation? Well, some people take their dogs with them. In many states now, businesses have all recognized just how lucrative it can be to cater to the dog-owning population and have created hotels, parks, restaurants and shops that are all dog-friendly. Recently I stopped in at a posh resort for two days in Mendocino, California where the king-sized bed was made up in handmade linens, and the sofas were covered in white upholstery. My first reaction was, “Oh no! The dogs will ruin all this!” And then I saw the lovely, ironed white sheets discreetly laid over the corner of every piece of furniture, marked “Pets.” They already knew my dogs jumped on the furniture and slept on the bed.

Often, I leave my dogs behind because I am flying cross country and taking even one dog with you costs over $400—often more than the price of my own ticket. And it also means a great deal of anxiety for both you and your dog as he waits in baggage areas and is shipped in the cargo hold, unless he is tiny (and I mean tiny) enough to sit at your feet in the cabin. Sometimes it just isn’t practical to take them along.

Recently I went with my husband to Manhattan because my son was running the New York City Marathon. I could hardly take three boisterous Dalmatians with me to the home of the friends with whom we were staying. And so I left them at home, after a tearful goodbye (tearful on my part), with a trusted and compassionate pet sitter, who texted me throughout our four days away and sent along photos from her phone as well. All of this brought me comfort, because sometimes, just sometimes, it is we humans who suffer the absence most acutely. When there was then an emergency accident with Mac, she got him immediately to the vet and expertly handled his aftercare, comforting him lavishly along the way. I was as grateful as if she were the Queen bestowing me with a title.

Why a pet sitter? I just can’t bear the thought of my dear three in a wire cage at the local kennel, even though it advertises itself as a pet “spa.” Some places have massages and ice cream treats and all levels of pampering. I don’t care. I’d rather have them on their own pads, free to roam, than on a bed with the highest pillows, perhaps feeling deserted. Leaving my dogs at home, in their familiar environment, happens to be what eases my mind. Some people board their dogs with friends and some people put them in kennels—neither of these other choices is wrong, it just depends on your comfort level and what you believe to be true about your dog’s comfort level.

The incontrovertible fact seems to be that our dogs, regardless of breed or mix, do miss us when we are gone, and thus jump and wag wildly as we walk through the door from a long business trip or vacation away. And don’t those greetings make you feel great– just as much as the sad faces made you feel rotten? Yes, it is true that man’s best friend just doesn’t like to be left behind. And as our dog’s best friend, we don’t either.

Yours,
Linda

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