HERRIMAN â Could your dog be depressed? New research suggests it might be. Some experts say dogs can suffer from mental illness just like people.
âWithin the first week, the first few days, we found out the little quirks that he had,â said dog owner Meghan Thompson, who lives in Herriman.
Her dog Jameson, a Pomeranian Dachshund mix, is a rescue.
âA lot of times they do have a more fractured background,â she said.
Thompson believes he suffers from anxiety, and possibly PTSD.
âWhining and kind of barking initially, and heâll kind of pace a lot of times,â she said. âWe were driving up State Street and there was some kid on a scooter, and that set him off in the car and he actually almost bit me. Itâs adrenaline that they donât know what to do with.â
Science shows we share an emotional range with animals.
âI do believe they can suffer from mental illness, and actually looking and trying to identify mental illness often helps us be better friends with them,â said Laurel Braitman in her popular Ted Talk.
She spent seven years studying mental illness in animals.
âWhat we do is go into difficult relationships thinking we can fix the people and other animals we love, and sometimes we donât have the resources to do that.â
Braitman believes getting your pet diagnosed by a vet or an animal behaviorist is a gateway to healing. She recommended hiring a trainer at the first sign of problems.
âItâs kind of like couples therapy,â she said. âYou kind of go when youâre having the problems already, when really you should go when youâre in the first blushes of love.â
Ty Brown has been training dogs for 20 years. He said when we give them the tools they need, weâre more likely to get the results we want. And it works for people, too.
âIâve got four daughters, and I think Iâm a way better dad because I train dogs,â said Brown, dog trainer with Ty the Dog Guy. âSo much of what we do as dog owners, as parents, is setting up scenarios for our kids or our dogs to have success. We deal with a lot of aggression, and I would say if I had to guess, 98 to 99 percent of it is fear related.â
Brown said trust and good leadership on the ownerâs part can help alleviate a dogâs anxiety. Itâs all about retraining the dogâs mindset so they no longer see another person or animal as a threat.
âHelping the dog realize, âNo, no, instead of lunging at that dog, weâre just going to have you heel calmly,â he said.
Like Brown, Braitmanâs message is hopeful.
âI am with you, and it is terrible, and it is OK, that oftentimes we will disappoint the people and animals we love most. You cannot fix every dog or cat, but try your hardest,â he said.
In the end, professional training worked with Jameson.
âWe decided we didnât want to give up on him,â Thompson said.
Now he and his owner have learned how to deal with his issues.
âWeâre really glad we did,â Thompson said.
Trainers said an advantage dogs have over humans is they are better at living in the moment. This helps them be more adaptable and trainable.