After raising their children for 18 years, parents often suffer from empty nest syndrome when their children go off to college.
But they aren’t the only ones.
Apparently, the family dog suffers from empty nest syndrome too.
“It’s a big deal for dogs when their people leave,” Stephanie Borns-Weil, the head of Tufts Animal Behavior Clinic, told The Boston Globe.
So much so that the dogs will actually show signs of depression.
They will often show their depression the same way humans do. They’ll stop eating, they’ll sleep a lot more, and just seem less happy and enthusiastic.
“They seem sad, but they can’t tell us,” Terri Bright, director of behavior services at MSPCA-Angell, said.
Take Reuben, a Labradoodle from Sudbury, for example.
He has bee sitting in from of Kerani Verma’s rooms just waiting every day since she left for the University of Delaware.
A Newton Goldendoodle named Gracie has been on a hunger strike since Emma and Rachel Brown left for Tufts.
All she does is sleep by their beds.
Zoe, a Golden Retriever, doesn’t want to come inside the house since Matt Nelson left for college.
She just sits on the front porch gazing down the road and hoping she’ll see him walking on it.
“There was no other reason for her to be out there,” Matt said. “I’ve been in college for a whole semester and my dog still waits for me to get off the bus.”
If your dog has the “I miss my human” blues you, there are things you can do. You want to help them feel joy in other ways and try to distract them.
Take them for more walks, let them go off leash, buy them some new toys, and give them lots of love and hugs.
Otherwise, your dog can grieve for months. Especially if the person who left is the one who would be the one to walk, feed and play with them.
“Sometimes when a dog is saying goodbye to a person they’re saying goodbye to a whole lifestyle,” Borns-Weil said.
It’s also important for you to be happy around your dog.
If you’re mopping around the house and seem sad and missing the person who left, your dog will pick up on that.
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“Sure, the dog is affected, but they’re also responding to mom and dad,” said Vivian Zottola, a canine behavior specialist in South Boston.
But if both of you are missing your kid too much… take your dog with you for a visit.
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