Dogs and their owners are a constant through my front door. And there are some who, once they’ve departed, I will breathe a sigh of relief. Their anxiety (and often guilt) at leaving a pet behind is palpable which their dogs reflect.
I know I’m going to be caring for a worried and anxious dog. One that may bark a lot and that I will not be able to leave alone or close a door to …even to pop to the bathroom.
I have had a poodle whose owner carried him everywhere.
He was the prettiest boy and perfect for the job of companionship his single owner needed.
But she was going away.
And for the first time in his two years, he had to be left.
He was the biggest challenge with his anxieties and it took me a day and a night of continuous whining, pacing, and asking me to pick him up. In the end, I attached a short lead and kept him attached to me. Once he realized he was going nowhere and I was his new reality, he became glued to me and the lead was unnecessary.
On our walks, the little fellow would keep tapping my leg just to ensure I knew he was there! So sweet. He guarded me fiercely when other dogs were around, but I never picked him up … this boy had to learn to become a dog when he was with me and he did…discovering the joys of chasing squirrels and birds.
I’ve had tiny Chihuahua’s who have the right to be scared of everything, but because their owners treated them just as they did their kids if anything they were overconfident feisty little tikes oblivious of their size when challenging another dog.
I’ve had a magnificent retriever develop anxiety – after his owner returned from a skiing accident with her leg in plaster. Something clicked in him once he was back home and his personality changed with insecurity. My theory is he was reflecting his owner’s fears of knocking into her. When he came back for a stay, he barked at every tiny sound, something he’d never done and I could not leave him alone for a minute never mind, go buy groceries. A really smart dog, he picked up something from his owners and couldn’t process it, so this was then manifested in behaviour.
Arthur, a beautiful springer spaniel was one of the most anxious. He barked at men(!) and again, major separation anxiety. His owner was a lady who struggled with her nerves and sadly not in good health with cancer. I’ve rarely seen a dog so reflective of his owner, mentally.
And then there’s Pippa, the cocker spaniel, who trots through my front door – tail on full wag, confident and a joy to be with… just like her lovely owner who I’m sorry to say goodbye to.
So remember, if you’re stressed, anxious, or upset, your dog will be too. Don’t forget about their needs. After all, playing with your pet can reduce your stress and theirs at the same time.