Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived – Helen Keller
Tall Guy has been working some long hours lately. And by long hours I mean, he’s home long after Porter and I go to bed and leaves the house the same time I do in the morning. Our normal routine hasn’t been put into action lately.
So, the other day when I found some of Tall Guy’s clothing in the middle of the living room, I just chalked it up to him being exhausted. Maybe he had tried to do laundry and it was a stranded member of the group. No big deal.
Then, a few hours later I found his towel by Porter’s bed. Now, the towel was not there when I got home and it wasn’t there 20 minutes prior, and I hadn’t put it there. I Nancy Drew’ed the situation and came to the conclusion it was either Porter or Scooter (the turtle). Now, seeing that Scooter is about 1 lb and not a Mutant Ninja Turtle (that I know of), I looked at Porter.
At first I was annoyed. He knows not to touch items that aren’t his. He can play with his toys and his own blankets, but our items are off limits. However, I hadn’t actually caught him in the act, so I just put the towel in the laundry hamper.
After about 30 minutes had passed, I looked up to find Porter gingerly dragging Tall Guy’s towel back towards his bed. I was about to Pilot him out of the situation, when I stopped to think about why he would be doing this.
As I watched him so gently bring this towel towards where he’s most comfortable, he then curled up on it and just looked at me. And then I knew. He missed Tall Guy.
Smells that are familiar or associated with a certain place they love, or person they like, can be comforting. Tall Guy’s clothes smell like him naturally. So, when Porter missed him and wanted to feel like he was close to him again, he tried to find something that smelled just like Tall Guy.
This is why we always suggest you bring a blanket or towel that smells like you and your home when you go somewhere new with your dog. Allowing for familiar smells helps your dog feel less anxious.
You tend to do this yourself too. How about when you get the occasional smell of your grandmother’s cooking, or the smell of a pile of leaves in fall, or how about the smell of your grandfather’s pipe? They’re comforting smells. Familiar.
Never underestimate the small things you can do to make your dog comfortable:
If you’re trying to crate train your dog, sleep with a blanket for a few nights so it smells like you and add that to their crate.
Adopting a new puppy? Bring in a toy that they can all play with so that it smells like their litter mates. This will make them feel a little more comfortable in their brand new home.
Your dog is going to go to sleep away camp? Make sure they have one of their favorite blankets with them.
This is a small step you can take to help cut down on anxious energy in new situations. Small steps help. You can’t be a super hero every day, so set yourself up for success with little items.
Darwin Dogs, LLC
Dog Training in Cleveland, OH