Haylo Hooman’s and Puggies,
As you know, I have rescued Pugs over the years and accept that there are certain behaviours that my rescue Puggie will have until the day they leave us. We know that some of those are personality driven, and some are driven from the experiences they have had prior to coming to live with us fur-ever.
Therefore as you can imagine last weekend’s Australian Financial Review front page caught my eye with a headline, ‘Minds of our pets; How to keep them happy.’ This obviously piked my interest, naturally flicking to the page, wanting to know what the article was talking about, whilst looking at my two boys wondering what I was going to learn about what drives some of their behaviour.
The article discusses how we know so little about the mental health of our precious pooches, that there is evidence that they can suffer from anxiety just like humans. And, that more research is being undertaken to understand the impact of our behaviour towards our fur-children, including how that affects their behaviour; perceived undesirable behaviour in a dog is not necessarily incorrect dog behaviour, but a reaction to vcues from their owner.
A pensive looking Max
Dr Kersti Sekel, a specialist in veterinary behavioural medicine (one of only three in Australia) believes that 20% of dogs suffer from ‘anxiety issues, and claims about 90% of those issues can be treated with medications, in tandem with strategies such as behaviour modification and managing the environment.’ (‘Before you get a pet, read this by Barry Divola (www.afr.com))
My fawn Puggie Charles suffers from anxiety whenever we go somewhere new or where he knows there will be a lot of people or other dogs; yes, he still drags his paws when we go to Pooch Parlour and Playgroup every week until we get there and he realises where we are and that he is safe.
Luckily for us, we haven’t needed to medicate him to help him manage his anxiety levels, but with the help of our Vet, we have had to use behavioural strategies to continually expose him to controlled situations with lots of cuddles and support to ensure that he doesn’t completely shut down whenever we walk out the front door. His ongoing socialisation with other Puggies is important, but we are conscious of his happiness as well.
Not surprising, his brother Winston who is coincidentally from the same litter, does not suffer the same issue and happily ditches us as soon as we get to Playgroup …… dragging his paws when it’s time to leave!
Also featured in the article is Paul McGreevy, a professor of animal behaviour and animal welfare science at the University of Sydney, who recently published findings in the UK citing that the ‘number 1 cause of deaths in dogs aged three and under was (attributable to) “undesirable behaviour.”' He is continuing that work in Australia, as he believes that ‘we need to look at our skill levels when we’re dealing with animals. We’re all time-poor, so our capacity to give dogs what they want when they want it is often compromised, whether it’s fun, food, company or exercise; all of those things affect our pets’ behaviour … McGreevy strongly believes an animal’s behavioural problems don’t rest entirely with the animal.’ (‘Before you get a pet, read this by Barry Divola (www.afr.com))
A rare moment when Oscar is letting us know he's not happy with his outfit!
I agree with McGreevy’s findings as it was a major factor in my first Puggie Louis coming to live with me. He was initially loved, then neglected and abused by his former owners over a period of seven years. Surprisingly after all that, Louis was the most loving and gentle Pug you would ever met when he was in my home; melting even the toughest of hearts with one look or snuffle against your leg.
However, that didn’t stop him from distrusting every male that came within 100 metres of him until I introduced them to him, and never being more than a foot away from my side at any time. Any anxiety displayed by Louis, or reactions he had to things as simple as someone touching his head (until the day he died), could be traced back to what he had experienced in his formative years.
Any Pug-parent of a rescue Puggie out there could attest to similar and unfortunately worse experiences with their own Puggies. It is one of the reasons why Andrew and I will always adopt, and support Pug rescue and adoption agencies wherever we can.
Further research is being undertaken into this little-known field of our fur-children's psyche, and I for one am going to continue to follow its progress so that I can be a better Pug-parent in the future.
If you want to read the full article, which I highly recommend as it’s a quick read, please follow this link to the AFR website
Before you get a pet, read this by Barry Divola https://www.afr.com/lifestyle/before-you-get-a-pet-read-this-20190521-p51pgu
I’d love to hear of your Puggies story and how you manage their idiosyncrasies or mental health issues, just add them in the comment box below; we read every comment and also respond.
Until next week Puggies, have a wonderful week and we look forward to seeing your adventures and photos on our Facebook and Instagram.
Proud Pug-mum to Winston and Charles
Founder of Pug Parties
#furchild #anxiety #puglove #gooddog #baddog #petowners
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