Dogs care so much about their owners, they may even dream about them in their sleep. This explains why so many of us love them back. That’s why it’s so hard to let them go. If you go for a walk for the day or just get something out of the garage, your dog will probably look at you like you’re gone forever.
But why don’t they understand that you will come back? More importantly, is there anything you can do to convince them otherwise?
In an attempt to answer this question, IFLScience contacted Battersea Dogs & Cats Home in the UK, an organization that helps rescue and rehome cats and dogs across the country.
Consider the scene. You say goodbye to him, you go out and you leave. He realizes the reality of the situation and begins to stress.
“As stress levels increase, the dog’s heart rate, respiratory functions and levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol – also tend to increase,” the CBWT said.
“The first 30 minutes are often the most stressful times for most dogs,” they said. “However, for some, this high level of stress can last the entire time of your absence. »
The most common signs of painful isolation are “vocalizations” and “destructive behavior,” but some signs are more subtle.
Arousal and excessive salivation are also common signs of severe stress. Maybe they pee on the floor to relieve stress.
It seems the dogs never get used to you leaving. After a while, they recognize some of your cues, like when you walk up to the front door, look for your keys, etc., that let them know you’re leaving, and panic begins to set in.
“Dogs are social animals, so it’s hard to know what they’re thinking when left alone,” added the CBWT. Unfortunately, we don’t know if they think we’ve abandoned them forever, or if they just need us to be with them. Some may not be afraid, but just embarrassed because you are not there to play with them.
Just like people, some dogs handle stress better than others. Dogs can develop separation anxiety and depression if left alone for long periods of time without getting used to it.
CBWT, however, suggests that certain individuals or breeds of dogs cope better with stress if they have another dog to share that experience with.
“All individuals learn during the critical socialization period as a puppy, around 3 to 14 weeks of age, that being left alone is okay,” adds the CBWT.
Changing habits in older dogs is more complicated, but a similar “gradual desensitization process” can be effective in the long run. But it depends on the nature of the dog.
So what can you do to help things? Woodgreen, another animal charity, suggests that you can prepare a box containing stuffed animals, a chew bone, some dog biscuits individually wrapped in sheets of newspaper, empty toilet paper rolls…
When you leave the house, put the box in front of him and let him go through it. Then, leave the house, without worry.
“The first time you do this, leave it for less than twenty minutes,” their website reads. “When you get home, immediately take the box and everything he took from it and put it outside. »