In my 18 years’ experience as a groomer, I often see these dogs, arriving in their owner’s arms, getting smothered in kisses and long drawn-out (almost tearful) goodbyes. They are usually anxious, shivery, and stressed out on arrival, but mysteriously, once the owner is persuaded to leave, they become relaxed and calm, cheerful even! Away from the clutches of their owner, and finally allowed to sniff and explore on the ground, they relax. The owners are sometimes, almost disappointed to hear their beloved hasn’t been pining for them! Here are my top 5 signs you may be causing your pet anxiety by failing to treat them like a dog!
- You are worried about not getting enough ‘kisses’. Puppies often lick their elder dogs and humans, when young. Some will continue doing this (hello Boxers!), but many will stop. Owners who have viewed these appeasement gestures as ‘kisses’ can become hurt and may pester their now-adolescent dog for the previous affection they enjoyed. Some will tolerate the intrusion,but some won’t, and faces close to a disgruntled dog is never a good combination.
- He can never be left alone, you have ‘doggie day care’ on speed-dial. There seems to be a misconception out there that dogs need the company of many other strange dog to feel satisfied with life. We domesticated the dog 30,000 years ago and call him ‘man’s best friend’. Why now do we insist he goes out and becomes ‘friends’ with 20+ dogs we’ve never even met!
- His closet is almost as big as your own. No, just no. While I do admit to having had a large collection of dog coats, once upon a time, it was for the 8+ greyhounds I had rescued, and who lived outdoors, until pet homes could be found. Tutu’s, necklaces, and fashion clothing have no use to a dog. He would undoubtedly prefer if you spent that time on a walk together, playing with a toy.
- You call him your ‘fur baby’ . This one is of course a dead give-away! Most owners have the best intentions but, I have sadly known couples who get a puppy, almost like a trial run to see if they will be good parents. In many cases the dog is ‘re-homed’ as soon as the actual baby comes along, or worse, demoted to a life outside or on a chain.
- He has doggie ‘play-dates’ and doggie ‘sleep-overs’ The pet industry is having a field day feeding into this need to ‘baby’ our dogs. Kennels are now ‘doggie hotels’ offering ‘sleepovers’, dog walkers bring your pet to ‘doggie play-dates’, groomers are now beauty spas, offering massages, blueberry facials and painted nails, all with price tags to match.
Put yourself in your dog’s shoes (paws!), most need little of the above, only YOU, YOUR time, attention, and leadership.