Anyone who has ever had the privilege of being able to share life with a dog knows how rewarding that companionship can be: dogs can be therapeutic and calming to those of us who spend a little too much time worrying about the little things, while the unconditional love and devotion we see from them humanizes us, ironically, and gives us a reprieve from the harsh, sometimes unfair realities of life.
It is true, a wagging tail and lick on the back of the hand is enough to wash away a bad day at work, traffic, upcoming bills or even a betrayal, as for that one moment, your true, unconditional companion is with you, and they are unconditionally happy that you are there.
For all that dogs give us, and how happy they make us feel at times, what do we give them? Food and shelter is simply not enough for a healthy companionship that is just as fulfilling to your four-legged friend as it is for you. Lots of research has been done on the psychology of dogs. It has been largely accepted that dogs are capable of feeling: they feel sorrow, loss and grief. They can get down on themselves, and even get depressed. However, do not let their “humanity” confuse you. Dogs have a very different understanding of the way they perceive human emotion.
Not communicating with them properly can leave our four-legged best friends sad, upset and down. First off, yelling or hitting your dog for making a mess in your house is not only counterproductive, but it could significantly traumatize your dog. Dogs have very short attention spans. They do not recall activities they’ve performed more than a few seconds ago for the purposes of associating those activities with the input you are presenting. For example, if you come home and notice a puddle of urine on the floor, being mad at your dog will not communicate to them that you are mad about the mess… it will only communicate that you are just plain mad at them, without a clear reason. Dogs typically respond to input up to 3 seconds after the act. If it has been hours, forget it… just clean up and move on.
Also, reciprocate the companionship that your dog gives you. Leaving dogs alone at home for 12+ hours makes them sad, upset and worried about you. Ignoring your dog when you are at home is not much better. Take them for walks, play with them. Remember, their love towards you is unconditional, but their understanding of your love for them is fragile… care for them, give them attention, and you’ll have one happy pup!