, Salem, MA

April 19, 2013

Can dogs miss a loved one?

Ask Dog Lady
Monica Collins

---- — Q: Can dogs miss a loved one? Recently, my wife and I separated, and our 3-year-old mixed dog named Rocky been very clingy since I moved out of the house. When he visits me, he won’t leave me alone and follows me from room to room. He is very close to me. Is this normal behavior? What can be done in a case like this because right now he can’t live with me?

A: Modern life can be so confusing for dogs. These are animals that thrive on constancy and things remaining in place. They don’t understand complicated marital problems and separation in any form. Rocky only knows you — your smells, your attentions — were around all the time, and now you’re not. Sure, he misses you. He is over-the-moon to see you again. This is entirely normal for dogs to cozy up exuberantly to their special people. Make sure you are extra good to him. Tire him out with long walks and lots of exercise. He won’t be as keen to follow you around anxiously.

You should understand that when you leave and your estranged wife takes care of him in your former home, Rocky is probably fine. He misses you only when you show up again — if you can follow that twisted logic. For the most part, dogs are situational. If they can’t be with the ones they love, they love the ones they’re with.

Q: I recently adopted a dog who is thought to have been previously abused. She is calming down and getting used to her new home. The problem is bedtime. I allowed to her sleep in my bed for the first few nights because she was very scared and nervous. Now, she refuses to sleep anywhere else. She has a crate, and I have tried crating her at night, but she cries and barks all night. Is there anything I can do to calm her down at bedtime so that she will be comfortable sleeping somewhere other than my bed?

A: This survivor dog needs her own comfy, cozy bed. Sure, she has the crate and it’s great you are keeping her in it during daytime. Hire a dog walker to ensure she gets out for a walk and hearty exercise during the day.

At night, lure her to a nest near to your own bed. Go to any purveyor of pet goods and find dog beds by the score — round, square, sheepskin, memory foam, microfiber, heated, bolstered, warming, cooling, and on and on. Choose one and fashion a hangout for your night owl. Use treats, such as dried liver bits scattered like rose petals, as the initial lure. Each night, quietly direct her to stay on her luxe lounge. Do not let her wander.

Your new dog wants to be near you at night. You goofed by taking her into your own bed too soon before she could handle the privilege. Just understand she wants to be close to you and your comforting smells. A bed of her own near yours will help her.


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