By Jessica Brody
Have you ever wondered why the human-dog bond is so powerful? This remained a mystery to humans (and their canine companions) for thousands of years. Today, we know it all comes down to a little hormone called oxytocin.
Called the love hormone for a good reason, oxytocin is responsible for those warm, fuzzy feelings we all get from time to time. It helps new mothers bond with their babies. It helps us fall in love. And – science has recently discovered – it helps us bond with our dogs.
That’s right. Oxytocin explains those wagging tails!
Read on for some oxytocin-boosting tips for how to go above and beyond as a dog owner. Your dog will love you even more for it – we promise.
While you’re working…
Just as young children become anxious when separated from their parents, dogs also become anxious when separated from their humans. Although it can be distressing to both dog and owner, the good news with separation anxiety is that it is a behavior that can be untrained. Here’s how to reduce your dog’s separation anxiety by helping them feel loved and cared for while you’re gone:
1. Start by carefully preparing your home for your dog. This includes “dog proofing” the home, hiding any dangerous or toxic items (such as cleaning supplies, antifreeze, or medications), and placing other items out of your dog’s reach as needed.
2. If you’re bringing home a new puppy or adopting a rescue dog, you’ll also want to allow some time for your new pet to acclimate to his or her new home – especially rescue pets that may be nervous or fearful at first. Until you know how the dog or puppy will respond to being left home alone for any period of time, you’ll want to secure the dog in one small area of the home – ideally in a crate, playpen or one small room. Include food, water, toys, and doggy pads just in case the dog has any accidents while you are away.
3. If you have a particularly demanding job, such as one which requires you to work long hours or stay late at night, you might want to consider the option of hiring a professional dog walker or pet sitter. Whether you’ve just recently adopted a new puppy or have had your dog for years, a pet sitter or dog walking service can help ensure your pet is properly cared for. This can reduce the feelings of fear and abandonment, which often lead to separation anxiety.
While you’re home…
If you work during the week, utilize the nights and weekends when you’re not at work to properly bond with your canine companion. Try to find a dog park that you both can enjoy. You can also bring your dog to the pet store, through the drive-thru, or to any dog-friendly local restaurants, coffee shops, hotels, and any other establishment in your area that might accept pets.
By taking your dog with you to these types of places, you are teaching your dog some important socialization skills – while also giving your dog the opportunity to practice obedience training and tricks in a new environment. These can be beautiful bonding experiences that you both will enjoy.
1. The Look Of Love Is In The Dog’sEyes
2. Neuroscience- The Hard Science Of Oxytocin
3. 7 Ways To Puppy Proof Your Home For Your New Furry Friend