By Dveen Hagopian and Grace Mundy
Though most of us recognize that social distancing is what’s best for everyone’s health, it is still a difficult and unprecedented time.
However, one group is probably much happier with our new stay-at-home lives, and that is our dogs. Dogs love the company of their owners and are happy when they are around. During this pandemic, most of us are hopefully staying home much more than usual, making for much happier pets. A study done by Emory University demonstrated that dogs feel excited when they are around their owners. During the study, dogs were trained to lie in an MRI machine, which measured their brains’ responses to different peoples’ scents. The study found that when dogs smelled scents they associated with their owners, the pleasure centers in their brains were activated, meaning they quickly became joyous when recognizing that their owners were near.
For this reason, there is no doubt that staying home cheers up our dogs, giving them a source of love and attention throughout the day. Working from home gives dogs, many of which had been accustomed to being alone for many hours, a constant companion.
In more extreme cases, some dogs have separation anxiety, which is described as extreme stress in dogs lasting from the time their owners leave to when they return, according to the American Kennel Club. However, with social isolation, dogs who do have separation anxiety don’t have to deal with a tremendous amount of stress, since many dog-owners are now working from and staying at home.
In addition, the boredom most of us are experiencing during self-isolation is driving the majority of people to walk and play with their dogs much more frequently than usual. Before the implementation of social distancing, most people were so consumed by their busy day-to-day lives that they often forgot or just didn’t have the time to walk their dogs. The increased amount of playtime and exercise dogs are now getting is also beneficial for them, both physically and mentally.
Although staying at home may not be the most fun or easiest of situations, we should look on the bright side: not only are we keeping each other safe, but we are also making our four-legged friends happier. In the end, staying home as often as possible is best for everyone right now, including our dogs.