How to greet your dog after you’ve been away

As I get ready for a real adventure watching wolves in Yellowstone Park, USA, much of my preparation is obviously around what’s happening with my dogs over the next two weeks. Well, in case you were wondering, my mum has offered to house and dog sit for us which is the best scenario all round (she will get a huge present!). As you know, Kenny is easily stressed and so not always a straightforward dog to look after and so allowing him to stay in his own territory and keep to a similar routine is going to ensure he stays as happy as possible. So that’s all great, I can relax about Kenny and mum can enjoy daily walks with her ‘favourite grandchild’ Chili dog… Ahem! No anthropomorphizing there at all!! As long as she doesn’t feed them ice cream.

However, what’s just as important to be sure of, and a few people have asked me about this recently, is what happens after the holiday. As those of us who follow AB know, our behaviour is of utmost importance on any occasion when we reunite with our dogs whether that is after work, having just popped to the shops or even just coming out of the shower cubicle.

However, who wonders about it all after a holiday? After such a long time apart? Surely we can make an exception due to this long separation to reassure the dogs that we still love them even though we left them…

You already know what I’m going to say but I know that it’s worth reiterating… It is perhaps even more important that we reunite correctly after a longer absence so that we can impress on our dogs that we are still their leaders from the moment we see them again. Their excitement to see us is understandable and natural and it may even take longer than normal for them to calm down enough for us to decide the time is right to call them for a lovely cuddle, but be strict with your human selves J and remember we do this for the benefit of their canine mental health!

I have been asked a couple of times recently how to manage the reuniting procedure if the dos have been in kennels. Here are a few things to think about. Firstly, ask the calmest member of the family to do the pick up! Secondly, ensure there is no eye contact or speaking to the dogs when the kennels staff brings them out to you (AB is becoming very widespread but you may want to talk to the staff about it so they can help or at least not make a fuss). Depending on the length of journey you then have, I advise either waiting until you get the dogs back in the house before beginning the reuniting correctly ritual. Or, if it is going to take some time to get back home, then just say a quick, calm and warm hello once you’ve got them settled in your car, and then if there are family at home waiting for them it is up to them to be calm and reunite correctly.

Anyway, I hope that helps if anyone else is popping off for some days away in the near future. Any questions, give me a shout before Saturday. I’ll be picking up emails here and there (do they have wifi in Yellowstone Park? Surely. It’s America right?) but not phone calls.

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