Small Dog, Big Love - Tips for a Happy Dog or Puppy Homecoming

by Carol King Published 12-18-2023
Happy Dog or Puppy Homecoming

Comfort for our furry companions in their (new) home environment is absolutely essential.

However--similar to us humans--dogs can experience feelings of nervousness or anxiety--particularly when they encounter a new living space.

The Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine (CSVM) provides clear indicators of anxiety in our canine friends: an anxious dog may exhibit signs such as panting, pacing, trembling, drooling, or showing a reluctance to engage with its owner, sometimes opting to hide away.

A border collie puppy sitting in a large tubSmall Dog, Big Love - Tips for a Happy Dog or Puppy Homecoming

In other instances, anxiety may manifest in forms of irritability or aggression--barking or growling, even towards familiar people.

Physical signs can be telling, too. A tail held low or tucked, ears pinned back, dilated eyes, or the appearance of a "whale eye"--where a substantial amount of white in the eye is visible--are all key signals of discomfort.

Recognising these signs of anxiety is not merely for immediate consolation; it's vital for preventing potential long-term impacts on a dog's well-being.

Ignoring the symptoms of a dog that is persistently on edge could indeed result in more severe anxiety or behavioural complications down the line.

Understanding and acknowledging a dog's nervous behaviour is critical to ensuring their happiness and health both now and in the future.

Remedies for a Rattled Rover

For dogs, comfort can come from the familiarity of their beloved toys or a snug blanket--even scents.

These items are not just playthings or bedding--they are reminiscent of stability and security and they can work instantly.

By surrounding your dog with these familiar items, you're not just filling their space--you're giving them a psychological hug (so to speak), telling them, 'This is home now.'

When canines feel under the weather, items steeped in familiarity serve as a steadfast beacon. These cherished objects ease a dog's transition from a place of uncertainty to one of dominion within their own four walls.

The recognisable smells and textures offer solace, assuring them that their world remains steady in the midst of change. It's a form of canine mindfulness that keeps them anchored and serene.

The Effect of Scents

Dogs' olfactory prowess is remarkable, with their noses boasting up to 220 million scent receptors, in stark contrast to the human’s modest count of around five million.

Such an acute sense of smell is why dogs are the go-to choice for tracking down lost adventurers, conducting wildlife conservation tasks, sniffing out contraband, and even monitoring health conditions in humans.

Given their extraordinary scent detection abilities, it stands to reason that aromas play a pivotal role in influencing a dog's state of mind and sense of well-being.

This insight spurred a group of British researchers to explore the potential benefits of essential oils in soothing and enriching the lives of dogs residing in animal shelters.

The research findings suggest that the scents of vanilla, coconut, valerian, and ginger may have the capacity to alleviate stress in dogs residing in shelters.

Needless to say, you can use this method on your own dog if need be.

A Nibble of Normality: The Role of Snacks

And then there are snacks--more than just tasty morsels, they're a sprinkle of joy for a dog in need of reassurance.

Offering treats to make the move easier for your dog--particularly those they’ve loved since their puppy days or from a previous residence--can be a lifesaver.

Its not just about the wag of the tail that comes with a good biscuit--it's about the sense of normality it brings. Just like a familiar scent can instantly transport you back home in your mind, a favorite snack can be a swift path to comfort for your canine companion.

Last Words

Making a dog feel at home is about employing a sprinkle of patience, a dollop of empathy, and a handful of their favourite things.

Recognising tension and employing these simple tactics to alleviate it are as easy as Sunday morning and equally satisfying.

With their familiar toys, blankets, and the odd treat, you'll turn 'new' into 'home' for your tail-wagging tenant in no time at all. It might just make them love their home as much as you love a good brew after a long day.

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About Janice (author and voice behind this site)

Having lived with dogs and cats most of her life, Janice served as a veterinary technician for ten years in Maryland and twelve years as a Shih Tzu dog breeder in Ohio.

Her education includes undergraduate degrees in Psychology with a minor in biology, Early Childhood Education, and Nursing, and a master's in Mental Health Counseling.

She is a lifelong learner, a dog lover, and passionate about the welfare of animals. Her favorite breed for over 50 years has been the Shih Tzu, but she has also lived with Poodles, Maltese, Yorkshire Terriers, Beagles, English Bulldogs, Carin Terriers, and a Cocker Spaniel.

When not writing, reading, and researching dog-related topics, she likes to spend time with her eight Shih Tzu dogs, husband, and family, as well as knitting and crocheting. She is also the voice behind Miracle Shih Tzu and Smart-Knit-Crocheting

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