Poor Jaffe’s world has just been badly shaken. He had lived in Alessandra’s home since he was a puppy, and this summer, major building works were undertaken. The house was completely renovated and rebuilt inside, with a large extension. The ground floor, where Jaffe spends all his time, has been completely changed, with new walls, doorways and windows. He used to sleep in the kitchen or the living room, with a comfortable bed in each place, but both of these rooms are now non-existent.
Jaffe was unaware that these changes were happening. At the end of April, before the work commenced, he moved into Alessandra’s mother-in-law’s house, which was already his second home. He was used to visiting her every Sunday, and he stayed with her when his own family went overseas on holidays. He was very comfortable and relaxed there, and he had an enjoyable summer.
The renovations were completed two weeks ago. Alessandra left Jaffe with her mother-in-law while she cleaned the house and prepared it for normal life. Last Saturday, she brought Jaffe back, planning to spend the weekend there with him, getting him used to his new environment.
Jaffe was clearly delighted to be returning to his old home. As they walked up the driveway together, he had a spring in his step, wagging his tail, bouncing up to the front door. But after the door was opened, and they stepped into the hall, his demeanor changed completely. He looked around, saw at once that everything was different, and he sat down, refusing to move. He looked nervously at Alessandra, and he began to pant, and to lick his lips: classic signs of anxiety in the dog world.
She had to carry him into the house, and when she placed him on the kitchen floor, he scurried under the nearest chair and hid, refusing to come out. She lifted him out, and slipped his comfortable bed beneath him, hoping that he’d soon settle down, but it made no difference. He refused to budge, and worse again, he refused to eat any food. When Alessandra lifted him up and took him outside for a walk, he returned to his usual cheerful self, but as soon as they came home, he skulked miserably back into his hiding place.
Alessandro hoped that as the weekend passed, he’d gradually perk up, but something happened that made it even worse. As part of the home improvements, a new vacuum cleaning system has been put in place, with a small, semi-spherical robot vacuum cleaner moving around the ground floor on its own. Jaffe has always been nervous about standard vacuum cleaners, but this new, self-propelling version was just too much for him. He developed a physical symptom of the internal stress that he was feeling: a badly upset stomach.
He came in to see me on Monday, and he needed treatment to help his gastro-intestinal system get back to normal. I also discussed ways of helping him come to terms with his new home environment.
Jaffe went home with a device similar to a scent-diffuser that’s used to make houses smell fresh, but this is one with a difference. It plugs into the wall beside Jaffe’s bed, and it wafts a Dog Appeasement Pheromone into the air. This is an extract of the pheromone produced by a bitch’s mammary glands for her puppies, and it has the effect of making dogs of any age feel calmer and more relaxed.
Jaffe has already started to emerge from his bed to have some food and to sit beside Alessandro. I suspect though, that it’s going to take a little longer for him to make friends with that strange floor-cleaning robot.
- Dogs can feel nervous and stressed, just like humans
- New environment, new people and new animals can all have this effect
- Synthetic dog pheromones can help dogs to feel more relaxed