Do you have a dog so in tune with your emotions? Is your dog sad when you are sad? If you are hurt or sick, is your four-legged family member right by your side? If so, you may have an emotional dog. We have all seen the pictures and videos of these dogs, and they are the ultimate in emotional support animals. Below are two instances of our running dogs who are also highly emotional beings, and how you can help your dog navigate his or her way through their feelings.
One of the dogs we run who suffers from anxiety is a highly emotional dog. While we have worked hard to help her anxiety through running, some days she doesn’t want to run far from the house. We always know when someone in her family is sick or hurt. One of the children in this family recently had an injury which required a leg cast. Because this child was temporarily unable to walk, this sweet dog wanted to be next to her human until he healed, including sleeping in his bed, which normally she doesn’t do. She whined and often her tail stayed between her legs. Once he healed, she too healed. It’s almost as if she felt his pain throughout his entire injury.
Another instance of a dog who is highly emotional, is from one of our rescue runners. Her human suffers from chronic migraines and while this perfect dog loves to run, when her owner is suffering, she truly is her emotional support by never leaving her side. This dog also tends to forgo eating because she is simply that dedicated to her human. While this total love is endearing, how do you help a dog who is this emotional, ultimately impacting their health? If they aren’t eating, due to their highly emotional state, how do you guide and redirect your dog?
Dogs who are especially close with their owner can sense facial expressions. Also, fluctuation of the human voice is understood by a dog. Dogs have a much more heightened sense of hearing than humans. While they may not understand WHAT you are saying, they understand HOW you are saying it. This goes for happiness as well. We can all relate to that wagging tail and smile from our dog when we are happy. Some dogs thrive based on their human’s positivity. We would be lying to ourselves if we say this isn’t tiring, because of course it is when you have such an intelligent creature to care for.
According to dogtime, the saying, “dogs can sense fear” rings true in that when we are nervous, we sweat. Their keen sense of smell picks up on that and they look for signs of reassurance from us. When their number one human is not their usual self and needs a break from walks/play, etc., the emotional dog reacts by in some cases simply laying down by their side.
What are the signs of having an emotional dog and how can I help?
- Signs of an emotional dog are as simple as constant licking, scratching and whining. Aimless pacing is another sign.
- Ways to help your dog is to keep a constant exercise routine. If your dog has an anxiety disorder, speak with your Vet on ways to help.
- Another way to help, and this works with many of the anxious and emotional dogs we work with, is a puzzle feeder. This mental stimulation takes the mind off of our anxiety, by focusing on a new task at hand
- Lastly, your dog truly is your best friend and support system. Hug your dog, and even if it’s only a 30 second break from our stresses in life, that hug helps both you and your pup.
Having a dog with heightened senses can be challenging, and as dog owners, we are always a work in progress. Recognize the fact that this silly, beautiful creature is as dependent on us as we are them! After all, you are your dog’s number one provider, caregiver and friend.