There comes a time in every person’s life when they journey out into the world to find their own destiny. Education is the pursuit of many of today’s youth, but unfortunately, that doesn’t always mean they can take all their friends with them, specifically their pets.
Over the centuries, dogs have proven themselves to be our most valuable companions, going where we go and tagging along on many adventures. And unfortunately, we can’t always take them with us on this particular trip.
What happens when your dog’s friends leave for college? It isn’t like they’re going to be gone for just a few days at a time. It may take months before a pet can be reunited with their playmate, which could result in doggy-depression.
Will they be back?
Signs of depression are normal at first. A dog might become lethargic and eat less than normal. You might find them waiting by the door for their friend to return home. Be ready because all dogs will experience some or all of these symptoms.
In the majority of cases, vocalizing- such as howling occurs very often, though some dogs may become quieter. This can be annoying, but it’s simply because they are searching for their companions. They aren’t trying to be annoying, so don’t discipline them, or you might make the situation worse.
They may also become very clingy to other family members that are still around. Like a person, they may feel fear that others will leave them as well and will want to go wherever you go. This is one of the most difficult symptoms of depression to overcome, because it is basically just like separation anxiety.
Often, you may find them searching for their friends. They’ll probably be pacing around familiar places or sleep in spots where their playmates used to sleep. Just like a person, they feel the emotion of loss and strive to do things that remind them of their missed family.
What to do with your dog
First of all, don’t reward depression with treats. You might think you’re making them feel better, but you’re actually just teaching them that being sad and inactive will get them treats. It would only enforce their behavior and won’t actually make them feel better in the long run.
The key is to get them adjusted to the new lifestyle. The best method is to keep them active. Even if they “don’t feel like it,” get them out with you for regular walks and exercise. The most important thing you can do is pay attention to them. When playmates leave, it tends to leave a hole in their daily activities, even if it was just a 7 o’clock belly rub. As a loving dog owner, you can’t allow your friend to sit through depression alone.
Find new playmates to keep them entertained. In these cases, introducing a new friend could be a blessing for your dog. Take them to environments where they can socialize with other people and pets to help reduce their loneliness.
Small reminders never hurt. Some dog owners, though distance separates them, still contact their pups so they can hear their voice. Though it may sound strange, the majority of dogs respond very well to the experience, even if it is just over the phone or on a computer screen. Be sure you put technology to some good use and visit your pets on occasion. They can recognize your voice and seeing a video probably would do some good as well.
Other reminders can be as simple as clothing or items with their companion’s scent on it. A stuffed animal might become a new “best friend” in their companion’s absence. Just be sure they aren’t destructive with these items. The best act is to present it to them so they know it’s theirs now. Don’t just let them take it or hide it away.
What happens when you reintroduce a companion and then break them apart again? Holiday visits can be good for your dog, but they will also have to face the “leaving” part again. This can often reset the depression situation, but often softens the situation as well. Be prepared to endure a bout of depression after a short holiday visit and be sure that your dog is ready for the changes.
Care for your pup and make the most of your experience together. After all, you will always have each other, and today is only for the moment. Value the time you have together because that’s exactly what your dog wants you to do.
Keeping up with your pet supplies can be just another thing you don’t want to have to remember. After a long day at work and going to the store, the last thing you want to do is have to go “to the store” again. Consider home delivery of your pet supplies!