Dr Harry: Why do dogs get anxious when you get home?
There’s no doubt some dog breeds are far more anxious than others. Some dogs couldn’t care less, others really are quite anxious. I could pick a couple of those breeds, a Staffy is one, a little Toy Poodle and Maltese. They can become quite stressed or anxious individuals.
What brings it all on? Well, some of it's in the genes. Why do they become anxious? Nine times out of ten, it's because they love you too much. You're elevating the dog to such an important level in your life, and the dog can sense that - because, believe it or not, you give off smells called pheromones.
We are creatures of habit. We go to work, we pick up the car keys, we go to the front door, we do this, we do that. Dogs can see what you’re going to do so they know what's going to happen.
So, when you come home of an afternoon this is when half the problem starts. You come home in the afternoon, walk inside the door, you’ve been gone all day. The dog needs to say g’day and the dog goes ballistic. Jumps all over you 'pick me up, pick me up, pick me up' and you go “Of course I'll pick you up!”.
So what should you do? You walk in, you ignore the dog, you can say g’day if you like, but don’t really make any eye contact or anything like that. And wait until the dog relaxes. When the dog relaxes, you call the dog over to you. And that’s when you give the dog a kiss and a cuddle. When you start to do that, what’ll happen is your dogs behaviour will get worse. In fact it keeps getting worse for about 6 weeks. And so most people give up ‘Dr Harry you’re wrong! Look at it, the dog's getting worse, it’s not getting any better’. That’s because you didn’t persevere.
If you persevere until 6 weeks, until that magic 42 days, you’ll find it stops.