In March 2020, many household dogs rejoiced when their owners started working from home. It didn’t take much for pet owners to read what was on their minds.
“Oh, boy! Scratches behind my ears and walks to the park all day long!” That’s what Fido was probably thinking while standing in your home office doorway, leash in mouth, every day at 10 a.m.
But for many dogs, the excitement may have already worn off. Like their owners, they are trying to adjust to this new life. Much to a pet’s surprise, an owner still has to work and can’t always give them the attention they crave. Also, an overabundance of scratches behind the ears might be too much of a good thing for them.
New interactions between pet and owner might be too demanding as both try to tread through uncharted waters at home. The owner is not used to interruptions like barking dogs and slobbery kisses during a conference call. At the same time, a dog might be annoyed that he or she is no longer in charge of the household during work hours. Watch for these signs that your dog is annoyed with you:
The eye-roll—Yes, it’s a real thing! If your dog rolls his eyes, yup, your pup is probably annoyed—with you! When you get the stink eye from your dog, something is going on that he or she doesn’t like. According to University of California, Davis, animal behavioralist Liz Stelow, DVM, DACV, a dog’s “lack of ability to rest due to increased noise activity during the day … or the owner being physically home but not available for the attention” could be some reasons why.
The silent treatment or the opposite—Depending on a dog’s level of annoyance, it will try to stay out of the owner’s reach to another room, under a bed, or stay outdoors. A dog could “settle in places he usually wouldn’t if he’s feeling displaced from his usual resting spots by the owner,” said Stelow. On the flip side, she says a dog’s favorite time to bark or whine is when an owner is on a video call and focused on work. “The dog thinks the owner should be paying attention to him.”
Refusing walks—Dogs will put on the brakes if they’ve had too many walks or refuse to go so they can be left alone.
Physical and Emotional Signs—Dogs can send off stress signals like whale eye, a crouched head, looking away from an owner, a sigh, reluctance to move or play, pace, pant, whine, less interest in food, and less affection.
Aggression—According to Stelow, dogs can snap or bite if an owner starts to touch a dog when it’s trying to rest or is stressed. The same thing can happen to another dog in the household, especially if the owner is paying more attention to the other dog. Stelow said most of the patients she’s seen lately have been dealing with increased aggression. When a dog receives more attention than they are used to, it can cause stress. All the commotion requires them to get more rest.
“I have some advice for all pet owners during ‘these unprecedented times’: work on your own stress/anxiety … acknowledge the impact of that stress on your pets and seek help if you think your pet is anxious,” said Stelow.
If the issues persist and you need help, Stelow says, your first stop should be your veterinarian: Find out more about the Department of Consumer Affairs Veterinary Medical Board professionals at www.vmb.ca.gov. If you wish to see a mental health professional for yourself, visit the Board of Psychology at www.psychology.ca.gov or the Board of Behavioral Sciences at www.bbs.ca.gov. You can check professionals’ licenses by visiting https://search.dca.ca.gov.