Why dogs love having their humans around all the time
It’s no secret that we are all suffering from quarantine fatigue. Well, the humans anyway. You know who loves having you trapped at home? Your dog. It makes them so happy.
In the distant past of early 2020 it was much harder being a dog.
Before the pandemic most of us would get up every morning, gulp down some coffee and head off to work. The dogs would spend the day guarding the house, maybe napping a bit, and staring sadly out the window counting down the minutes to the humans returned. Ten long hours later we would finally come home, tired and distracted.
Sure, there would probably be a nice walk before or after work, maybe a round of fetch in the yard, but it was not enough. Our dogs would hang out with us for four, maybe five hours, before it was time for bed.
Dogs, like us, lived for the weekend.
But now every day is like a weekend, at least from your dog’s perspective. The humans are home all day, every day. It’s the best thing ever — for the dogs. I am pretty sure they all hope we stay home forever.
Dogs are pack animals, as we all know. Having all the pack members home makes it easier to relax because your dog knows we are safe. They can follow us around all day, checking out what we are doing and keeping an eye on us.
When we leave the house, they have no idea what’s going to happen and how long we will be gone.
Studies have shown that dogs can measure time by smell — afternoon smells different than morning, for example. Generally, the longer a dog is separated from their owner, the stronger their reaction to being reunited — although sometimes my dog acts like I have been gone for days when I’ve been gone for fifteen minutes.
There are other benefits to all that togetherness with their owners. There is much more petting, more time for throwing toys or playing games, and most importantly, more opportunities for treats.
When we show affection to our dogs, through a pet or a snuggle, it releases oxytocin, the “love” hormone. Both dog and owner feel a surge of happiness when they spend time together, similar to the way we do when we hold a newborn baby or hug someone we love. Even the hardest heart can be melted by petting a cute dog.
Snuggling with your dog is good for their mental health — and yours.
All this working at home has also created more opportunity for joint exercise. Many people have taken up running or long walks as a way to get out of the house, keep fit and move away from the Zoom calls.
A break between meetings can be a great time to take a little meander around the neighborhood, allowing your dog to sniff things, eat some grass and investigate what is happening outside. Since dogs use urine as a way to mark their territory and leave messages for other dogs, your walk time is as valuable for their communication and email is for ours.
In the wild, dogs run and walk all day, so this extra outside time is a gift for both of you. Since both humans and domesticated dogs are more sedentary now than we have been any time in our evolution, it’s great for their health — and yours — to get moving.
More frequent walks and runs helps both humans and dogs counteract any pandemic munching that has been happening. Sure, all those loaves of fresh sourdough bread and Pinterest cupcakes are yummy, but we have to do something to burn off the calories.
Sometimes the dogs can even join us in our video meetings, where at least one person will helpfully point out what a pretty boy they are. It’s awesome.
Dogs can tell by the tone of a person’s voice, and sometimes by the words used, that they are being praised. That extra attention and affection, even through the computer screen, is good for your dog’s self-esteem. We all like a little praise every now and then.
We will all go back to the office eventually, and most of us can’t bring our canine friends with us. Enjoy your time with your dog while you can. Your dog sure will.
Published in Illumination Magazine on Medium. Follow me at https://medium.com/@RoseBak.