Recognize and Remedy Separation Anxiety in Dogs



Lucy and her "friend", hedgehog. Photo by Bruce McElmurray

The American humorist Josh Billings once said, “A dog is the only thing on earth that will love you more than you love yourself”. For more than 23 years, we have been with our canine family almost 100 percent of the time. When you are with your canine family members that much time, it is hard to avoid learning about their behavior and traits. Because of the COVID-19 virus and shelter-at-home orders, for those who have canine family members, there exists the unique opportunity to see more of your dogs' behavior.

Dogs as Companions for Homesteaders

Always there. We have three German shepherds and are familiar with each of their traits and, more specially, their love for us. They can heal a wounded heart, brighten a boring day, or comfort us with their love for us. When I get up to do something at least one is right there by my side, and when I come back inside from working outside, there are generally two at the door with smiles and tails wagging. The third one is watching but at 13+ years old and his back legs weakened he will wait for me to come to him — I always do — which makes him happy. For 13 years, he was my constant companion and now it is my time to take gentle care of him in his advanced years.

Dogs attuned to our moods. When the cabin fever starts to take hold of us, they will distract us by play, forced affection or various other means to lighten our day. Those who have been sheltering in place at home may have observed how the canine family is acutely attuned to our every change in mood. They will be at your side for petting or belly rubs and the next thing you know your mind is focused on them and not your own concerns. Petting a dog is just plain therapeutic!

Dogs versus cats. Admittedly, I don’t know much about cats, but it seems to me that cats can consider humans an invader into their domains. Dogs are just the opposite: They just want to be wherever we are and any attention you can give them makes them extremely happy. Cats seem to decide when you should give them attention and appear more independent. Dogs have now become accustomed to having their family around all the time and can react differently when things slowly change back.

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