We see it all the time. Every day, there are a handful of owners that bring their dogs in for one of our services, and before they hand over the leash (or sometimes even after!) they pause to say goodbye to their beloved furry family member.
They make a fuss over their dog, linger in the lobby, and echo “it’s okay, Buddy” until the dog is out of sight. Meanwhile, we are having to coax the confused pup back into our hallway when his owner is crouched down talking to him from the other way.
These owners mean well – who doesn’t want their dog to feel comfortable and reassured, especially in what might be a new place? It’s human nature to want to comfort our dogs when they seem scared, but what we consider to be comforting often creates the opposite effect.
By baby talking, cooing, or hugging, you are working your dog up. They’re engaged, they’re happy, they’re experiencing a lot of excitement. And then, right in the midst of that, you leave. Speaking in terms of attention and emotion, the dog went from having everything to being left with nothing.
So really it’s no wonder that many dogs whose owners part ways like this tend to be anxious, stressed, and reluctant to come back with us. The solution is to put an end to the rampant, exaggerated goodbyes. Instead of bringing your dog up to that point of excitement, stay calm and collected.
Act as though this appointment is the most routine thing in the world, and your dog will reflect some of your certainty.
Get into the habit of speaking coolly and quietly, and do your best to just hand over the leash and move on. This will not only help to keep your dog from getting worked up, but you’ll also find that you’re less stressed and worried as well!
Taylor Herr, IACP-CDT
Director of Training