Have you seen the movie trailer for the animated comedy “The Secret Life of Pets”? It shows our dogs partying and living-it-up after we leave the house. Cute and entertaining, for sure, but SO FAR from reality.
Last week I was away for the first time from my rescued fur baby whom I have only had a little over a year. I was only gone 3 days, but even in the comfort of his own home with his “daddy”, he mourned. He moped. He laid on my side of the bed for hours on-end and didn’t move. He lost his enthusiasm for walks and playtimes. Truly he sensed the unusual length of my absence. Did he think I had abandoned him as his previous owner did? What was his doggie mind telling him? Did he suffer a form of doggie depression?
Do Dogs Really Miss Their Owners?
They do! Various studies have been done on dogs, including brain scans, to determine that dogs displayed negative emotions while their owner was away. This is particularly interesting when we consider specific breeds and their temperaments. For example, a poodle breed, known for its intelligence and attachment to its owners, might exhibit stronger negative emotions when left alone compared to other breeds. Dogs can actually start missing their owners from the moment they part ways, and keep missing them more up until two hours. Beyond two hours, the melancholy stays about the same until they’re reunited with us.
Dogs Behavior When Left Alone
The old adage of “dogs have no sense of time” has been disproven… at least it could be more appropriately worded as “dogs have a minimal sense of time”. Have you ever seen the videos of the returning veterans and their dog’s responses? Those are not the normal, “Oh, hey, back already?” doggie responses. In a recent study by Therese Rehn and Linda Keeling*, they identified the physiological effect on a dog’s behavior when left alone. By studying the intensity of the dog’s greeting when left alone for 30 minutes up to 4 hours, they learned that there was definitely a “higher frequency of physical activity and attentive behaviour” when the owner returned after having been gone for a longer time frame. Unfortunately, we cannot communicate to our dogs that we’ll be back in 3 days or 2 weeks or whatever (although, I must admit, I DID try to explain that to my little guy with the unfounded hope of comforting him). It appears that our lengthy separation becomes a sad and miserable loss to them.
Anxiety Caused bySeparation
Never having exhibited any unhealthy signs of separation anxiety, my dog was truly aware that my absence was not the normal day of work or trip to the grocery store… and his little heart was broken. As much as I hated being away from him, he suffered the brunt of our separation. His response could be likened to dog jealousy – wanting the attention and company of his owner and feeling desolate when it is not available. Yes, dogs can suffer from depression, and yes, it can be debilitating for them. Typically, your dog will go through a grieving period that can last anywhere from a couple of days to several weeks, depending on how long you are away.
3 Signs Your Dog Misses You When You Leave
Even though the studies show that most dogs will miss us when we leave, the amount of anxiety or sadness they feel depends on the dog and their circumstances. Here are some signs to know whether or not your dog will miss you when you’re gone:
1. They Snuggle (Or Destroy) Your Stuff
Because your dog has an incredible sense of smell, your dog might be seeking out something that smells like you to cope with your absense. If you’ve noticed that your dog always lays on your dirty laundry or old sneakers, then it’s pretty clear they’ve been missing you.
If your dog has gone beyond missing you and into separation anxiety territory, this tendancy to be around things that smell like you might turn into destroying your stuff because your pup is upset to be alone.
2. They Cry When You Leave
Have you noticed that your pet howls or cries when you’re about to leave or after you’ve left the house? If your dog sounds sad to see you go, it’s because they are!
3. They’re Extra Affectionate When You Return
Your dog may be missing you while you’re gone, but once you’ve returned, they’re the happiest they can be. Does your pup have an extra-intense case of the zoomies when you come home? Or possibly do they lean against you or even smile at you? These are key signs that your dog misses being apart from you.
Your Best Option to Help Your Dog Avoid Any Anxiety
If you must be gone for an extended period of time, your best option is to leave your pet at a boarding facility like Holiday Barn. The change in scenery, smells, and activity will give your pet less time to mourn and focus on your departure. Although he will not forget that you are gone, his mind and his senses will be busy adjusting to the many changes. Doesn’t it make sense that if your dog is not in his normal environment, he will not expect the normal experience…. like you walking through the door at any moment? A new, friendly, and fun environment will challenge his perspective and tendencies. One of the best things you can do for a young pup is expose him to a relationship to a pet resort. After he is old enough for his first rabies vaccination, get him involved in doggie day carein Richmond, VAand begin boarding him a day or two at a time. His resulting comfort with his “home away from home” will be reassuring to him and YOU when you must leave him for any length of time.
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If you must be gone for an extended period of time, your best option is to leave your pet at a boarding facility like Holiday Barn. The change in scenery, smells, and activity will give your pet less time to mourn and focus on your departure.Do dogs miss owners when they go on holiday? ›
Your dog will naturally miss you when you go on holiday. They are one of the few pets that are capable of feeling love in the same way as humans. They also feel it's their job to protect you and their anxiety levels can rise when you're not around as their sense of purpose disappears. Routine is important for dogs.How do dogs feel when you leave them to go on holiday? ›
It found that dogs definitely feel the excitement when their owners return, but the length of the absence doesn't seem to make a great deal of difference in the level of the emotion. So, your dog knows you're going away, and he's most likely not going along.How can you tell if a dog misses you? ›
One of the best indicators that your dog misses you is his reaction when you return. Dogs will exhibit extreme excitement when their owner walks in – varying from jumping, excessive licking or running around in circles. Did your dog miss you? Their excitement is directly tied to their happiness to have you home.Do dogs realize when you're gone? ›
While your dog will remember you leaving the house, they most likely won't understand how long you were away. When dogs are left alone, sometimes they become stressed (stemming from their separation anxiety), indicating that they have an awareness of the passage of time.What do dogs do when they miss their owner? ›
CUES THAT YOUR DOG HAS MISSED YOU
They are super excited to see you and will probably pace up and down and circle around. They might lean against you when you arrive home and probably follow you around the house for a while. Their tail will be wagging and their eyes and ears will be relaxed.
Separation anxiety is triggered when dogs become upset because of separation from their guardians, the people they're attached to. Escape attempts by dogs with separation anxiety are often extreme and can result in self-injury and household destruction, especially around exit points like windows and doors.Do dogs miss humans? ›
It's not unusual for dogs to grieve the loss of a person they've bonded with who is no longer present. While they might not understand the full extent of human absence, dogs do understand the emotional feeling of missing someone who's no longer a part of their daily lives.Should I FaceTime my dog while on vacation? ›
The bottom line is, most dogs can't recognize faces on phone screens or tablets. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't FaceTime or Skype with your pets while you're out of town! It won't harm them, and they may even recognize and be comforted by the sound of your voice.How long is normal to miss your dog? ›
Acute grief symptoms after the death of a pet can last from one to three months and general symptoms of grief can continue, on average, for six months to a year This grieving period can vary significantly from person to person and can be much longer or shorter.
Overall, dogs are complex creatures that think about a wide range of things, including social relationships, their physical environment, daily routine, physical needs, and health and well-being.Can dogs change their favorite person? ›
Signs of a dog's favorite person include following them around, showing excitement and affection, and protective behavior. A dog's favorite person can change over time due to various factors, but with proper care and attention, the bond between a dog and their owner can continue to grow stronger.Do dogs sense they are loved? ›
But does your dog understand the depth of love you have for him or her? According to Dr. Brian Hare, a canine cognition specialist, our dogs do know we love them. Dogs and humans have the ability to form a special neural connection.Do dogs think owners are parents? ›
They have the same feeling as a child towards their parents and so they are not just an animal but a child to us and for them we are family. If ever you wonder whether your pooch is just like your child or not, think again. For them you are their parents.Do dogs miss being at home? ›
Can dogs be homesick? The answer is definitely yes. If you have ever house sat for a friend, or taken in their pooch while your friend or family member is away, you already know the answer is yes. Dogs are very emotional fur people and they are very attached to their home and their people.What does it mean when your dog stares at you and whines? ›
Just as humans stare into the eyes of someone they adore, dogs will stare at their owners to express affection. In fact, mutual staring between humans and dogs releases oxytocin, known as the love hormone. This chemical plays an important role in bonding and boosts feelings of love and trust.