Notice any changes with your dog’s temperament as the kids head back to class? The ASPCA website has some good advice on how to help your pets deal with separation anxiety…
One of the most common complaints of pet parents is that their dogs are disruptive or destructive when left alone. Their dogs might urinate, defecate, bark, howl, chew, dig or try to escape. Although these problems often indicate that a dog needs to be taught polite house manners, they can also be symptoms of distress. When a dog’s problems are accompanied by other distress behaviors, such as drooling and showing anxiety when his pet parents prepare to leave the house, they aren’t evidence that the dog isn’t house trained or doesn’t know which toys are his to chew. Instead, they are indications that the dog has separation anxiety. Separation anxiety is triggered when dogs become upset because of separation from their guardians, the people they’re attached to. Escape attempts by dogs with separation anxiety are often extreme and can result in self-injury and household destruction, especially around exit points like windows and doors.
Some dogs suffering from separation anxiety become agitated when their guardians prepare to leave. Others seem anxious or depressed prior to their guardians’ departure or when their guardians aren’t present. Some try to prevent their guardians from leaving. Usually, right after a guardian leaves a dog with separation anxiety, the dog will begin barking and displaying other distress behaviors within a short time after being left alone—often within minutes. When the guardian returns home, the dog acts as though it’s been years since he’s seen his mom or dad!
When treating a dog with separation anxiety, the goal is to resolve the dog’s underlying anxiety by teaching him to enjoy, or at least tolerate, being left alone. This is accomplished by setting things up so that the dog experiences the situation that provokes his anxiety, namely being alone, without experiencing fear or anxiety.
Written in the 1930s as letters to his godchildren, “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” by T. S. Eliot is the collection of poems about feline life on which Andrew Lloyd Webber based his legendary musical “Cats”…
The Naming of Cats
The Old Gumbie Cat (Jennyanydots)
Growltiger’s Last Stand
The Rum Tum Tugge
The Song of the Jellicles
Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer
The Awefull Battle Of The Pekes And The Pollicles
Macavity: The Mystery Cat
Gus: The Theatre Cat
Bustopher Jones: The Cat about Town
Skimbleshanks: The Railway Cat
The Ad-dressing of Cats
Check out this interesting article from the Atlantic about neurochemical research that sheds light on the emotions of dogs and cats…
I’m not a dog person. I prefer cats. Cats make you work to have a relationship with them, and I like that. But I have adopted several dogs, caving in to pressure from my kids. The first was Teddy, a rottweiler-chow mix whose bushy hair was cut into a lion mane. Kids loved him, and he grew on me, too. Teddy was probably ten years when we adopted him. Five years later he had multiple organs failing and it was time to put him to sleep.
When I arrived at the vet, he said I could drop him off. I was aghast. No. I needed to stay with Teddy. As the vet prepped the syringe to put him to sleep, I started sobbing. The vet gave me a couple minutes to collect myself and say goodbye. I held Teddy’s paw until he died. Honestly, I didn’t think I was that attached.
This experience led me to undertake experiments on animal-human relations to try to understand how animals make us care so much about them. Biologically, I wanted to know if pets cause the people to release oxytocin, known as the neurochemical of love, and traditionally associated with the nurturing of one’s offspring.
Oxytocin might explain why people spend thousands of dollars to treat a pet medically rather than euthanize it and simply get a new animal.
My lab at Claremont Graduate University in California pioneered the study of the chemical basis for human goodness. In the past decade, we have done dozens of studies showing that the brain produces the chemical oxytocin when someone treats us with kindness.
I call oxytocin the “moral molecule” because it motivates us to treat others with care and compassion. Oxytocin was classically associated with uterine contractions in humans, and in rodents caring for offspring. Our studies showed that a large number of agreeable human interactions—from trusting a stranger to hold money for you, to dancing, to meditating in a group—causes the release of oxytocin and, at least temporarily, makes us tangibly care about others, even complete strangers.