August 8, 2011: The Embarrassing Visit

~ by Mary Galvano

Can dogs experience feelings of embarrassment, or depression? A new family member came to visit us last week. My brother’s family just adopted a puppy, an adorable black and white English Springer Spaniel named Oreo. We couldn’t wait to welcome her into our home and introduce her to our dog, Princess.

The moment Oreo walked in, though, she went right over to Princess to play. Princess has lots of energy but, she is still a smaller dog and being older she is much calmer and wasn’t used to the constant pouncing and nipping she was experiencing. It seemed Princess was defenseless in her own home. Princess was a good sport and allowed the puppy to continue playing with her and her toys. On top of everything else, during my family’s visit we had a new piece of furniture delivered by two strange men. Princess was ready for a break!

I noticed a change in Princess’ mood the evening after the family left. She would gaze at me as though she was ashamed. For a few days this went on and whenever she saw me, or I walked into a room with her, she would put her tail between her legs and slowly walk away. She even cowered if I pet her.

I thought, “What did I do? Was there something I could have done that might have scared her?”

Then it occurred to me, with the new dog and the new piece of furniture, of course she was out of routine and depressed! She went through a lot of changes in her routine and surroundings. There were also moments I am sure, that she felt helpless moments of embarrassment due to the enthusiastic and out of control behavior of the young puppy.

I decided to take Princess for a long walk and spent quality time alone with her crawling on the floor playing with her favorite ball. I got her back on a routine, made sure my mood was cheerful, and gave her plenty of love. Not long afterwards, Princess snapped out of her depressed state and was back to her normal, playful self.

Yes, dogs do experience depression, embarrassment, and all types of emotions just like humans. Depression can be a result from an array of sources such as: change, loss of a loved one, physical trauma, weather and boredom. Dogs are our family members. They notice so much more than we could ever know. Any slight change in our lives can be a lot to them. When you notice your dog is a little down or out of sorts, here are a few helpful tips that might help your loved one to feel better.

  1. Check to make sure the depression isn’t coming from something more serious such as injury or illness.
  2. If there are major changes, such as moving to a new place or introducing a new person, or a new puppy, try to make the transition as gradual as possible. Maintain the dog’s schedule the best you can. Keep familiar objects around like favorite toys and blankets for comfort.
  3. Make sure to give your dog plenty of exercise. Alone time to play is extra special, too.
  4. If a fellow dog passed away, try getting another dog to keep it company.
  5. Love your dog and keep your mood cheerful! Dogs can pick up on emotions better than any human can.

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Mary Galvano-Bajohr is a singer/songwriter, LPGA golf instructor, speaker and author. On the golf course she is a dedicated professional, but go to a Yankee game, a Pro-life event or other venue and you just might see her step up to the microphone and sing the National Anthem or the Ave Maria.

Visit Mary’s website at www.marygalvano.com.

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