It’s Monday, 6:02 pm. In two hours, a new post (this one) should be up in the website. Having run out of ideas (except for the Leishmaniasis article I’ve prepared that is so long that I never find the time to keep writing and polishing it), I asked Manel a few minutes ago what I should write about. “About excitement and vomiting”, he answered. “Whaaaaaat?!!”, was my reply. I immediately gathered that Nix had thrown up due to excitement and that he hadn’t told me. So then Manel proceeded to tell me the story, and that story has set me thinking – is Nix perhaps too attached to us?
The Background Story
But let’s start at the beginning. This past weekend I visited my parents: I went alone, no Nix, no Manel. I came back yesterday evening, just as Nix was waiting for her dinner. When she heard me unlocking the door, she came very excitedly to greet me, but she kept running back and forth between the corridor and the kitchen, as she usually does when she is waiting for her food. I unloaded the car while Nix ate her food, and then left again to park the car. I almost took Nix with me, but Manel told me that there was no need to bring her along, so I left her home.
Turns out that while I was gone she went nuts and became very upset. According to Manel, you could feel she was angry, and she started running back and forth while grunting between the front door and the kitchen, where Manel was. In the midst of it, she suddenly stopped and threw up the dinner she had just eaten. I guess she then calmed down a little bit.
This story, which at first sight is quite hilarious, has actually set me thinking. I’ve started wondering if maybe Nix is too attached and too dependent on us.
Although every dog is different, from my few experiences with German Shepherd dogs and reading about them I believe that they are very attached to their owners and the pack. We are aware that Nix is happiest when the three of us are outdoors doing some kind of dog-appropriate activity. We also know that it took her a while to get used to the dog-sitter and the other people who work with her. However, now she loves them all and I’d say she’s as happy with them as she is with us.
At the same time, I guess that she could be attached to us without getting so anxious about it. Ironically, though, whenever she is left alone for a few hours – which happens at least three times a week – she seems fine about it, in the sense that she doesn’t make a fuss when we leave, quite the opposite (with a very few exceptions here and there). However, on a few days we found that she had been scratching the wall and chewing the door frame, although fortunately it does not happen often.
It seems, then, to be more of a problem of anxiety when we arrive. She whines and is very excited whenever we get home. I personally find it very difficult to resist petting her, as I’ve also missed her while I was away. What I normally do when I get home is talk to her in a soft voice, leave my things on the table, sit on the sofa, and after this I pet her. I try to avoid as much as possible increasing or rewarding her excitement, although I probably haven’t as much as I should have.
My interpretation of what happened yesterday is the following: Nix was doubly excited because of the food and my arrival. She probably expected me to stay home since I had just arrived, and was really upset when I left. Although I can’t be 100% sure, my gut feeling is that the previous food-related excitement also played an important role in her behaviour after I left.
Still, this is something that I’ll be keeping an eye on, and discourage anxiety as much as I can…
Have you ever had similar issues? How did you deal with them?