Can a dog miss a human?
Do Dogs Miss Their Owners?
Over the centuries, dogs have become increasingly close to their owners. The relationship between humans and canines has evolved from dogs being kept as hunters and herders, to becoming close family companions.
Dogs are very social creatures and have become so close to humans that — although they do not speak — they can understand what we’re saying from our facial expressions (like our smiles), our gestures (like pointing) and our tone of voice. They recognize individual people, and look to their owners for comfort and protection if they are nervous or stressed.
It follows, therefore, that dogs are very likely to miss their owners if they are separated for any length of time — just as we would miss them.
DO DOGS MISS THEIR OWNERS?
After a 2 year project, Psychology Today reported that “Yes, dogs miss us when we’re gone!” In another study it was found that after 2 hours absence, dogs greeted their owners more vigorously than after only 30 minutes of being left alone. This could suggest that dogs can tell the difference between 30 minutes and 2 hours, and may struggle to tell if you’ve been gone any longer — but will still be pleased to see you!
Another study explored the difference between whether dogs missed their owner the most, or were they just as pleased to see a stranger, or someone that was less familiar than their owner. Measuring the part of their brain which is associated with positive expectations and rewards (activated by a familiar human’s scent), it was clear that the dogs clearly missed their owners more than they missed anyone else.
The human/dog relationship is a source of emotional fulfilment for humans too and has been proven to benefit humans in all walks of life and situations. The bond between someone in service and their dog is well documented — the pair become as one, particularly in situations like searching for drugs or bombs — and if anything happens to the dog to separate them, the person in service might grieve for their loss, just as they would another human.
CUES THAT YOUR DOG HAS MISSED YOU
Aside from the warm welcome when you return home, look out for these other clues to understand if your dog has missed you:
- They are sitting by the door waiting for 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. They may even give you a doggie smile!
- You may find evidence that they have been close to your possessions — such as sleeping on your pillow, or collecting your shoes — they want to keep your scent close to them!
SIGNS THEY HAVE NOT BEEN COPING WELL WHILE YOU ARE OUT
If you think your dog’s welcome is over-exuberant when you get home, you should look out for these signs that may indicate that they have found your absence more of a challenge:
- Your neighbour reports they have been barking
- They were whining when you left and pacing up and down and perhaps looking out of the window for you
- You may find that they have been chewing shoes, or cushions or anything they can get their paws on
- They haven’t touched their food
- They may well soil in the house
- They may raid the rubbish bins
Not all dogs like being home alone, and you may need to take some steps to help them adjust. For example:
- Build up their alone time gradually
- Create an area where your dog knows they will be safe, with a comfy bed and their favourite toys. Using an ADAPTIL Calm Home Diffuser is an excellent way to help your dog feel supported and calm while you are not at home.
- Take them for a long walk before you leave so that they will be tired, which may help them relax more easily
- Try and stick to a routine as much as possible so they get used to you leaving — and also learn that you’re coming back
- Give them something to occupy their time while you are away — like a Kong filled with treats to keep them engaged
- Reward them for acting calmly when you leave or arrive
Recent research has shown that gentle petting of your dog and settling them before you leave may help to calm them down, rather than leaving them without acknowledgement.
Overcoming the Separation: How to Know if Your Dog is Dealing with Anxiety
It’s not uncommon for your best friend to experience distress when you are gone. In fact, 14 percent of dogs experience anxiety at some point in their lives. This anxiety cannot only be difficult for your dog, it can also make leaving your furry pal alone an uneasy experience for you too.
Whether you’re just stepping out for a quick errand or away several hours at work, no one wants to leave a stressed dog. Here’s a breakdown on what you should know in case your dog struggles with separation anxiety.
What Causes Nervousness in Dogs?
Though it’s more common for shelter dogs or puppies to experience stress when alone, we don’t know exactly why any dog may or may not develop anxiety. However, specific changes to a dog’s lifestyle or surroundings could trigger nervous behaviors.
Change in guardian or household membership
Being abandoned, surrendered to a shelter, or transitioned to a new pet parent can be a traumatic experience for a dog. A sudden loss in the family, either death or moving away, can also cause your furry friend to feel those same feelings of distress or abandonment.
Change in schedule
Dogs thrive in a routine environment. An abrupt change in their day-to-day schedule, such as taking an extended period off work then returning and leaving your dog alone for several hours, may cause your furry family member to experience anxiety.
Change in residence
A new, unfamiliar home can trigger separation anxiety when alone in a house your dog has not become comfortable with yet.
Lack of human leadership
Dogs are pack animals. In a pack, the leader is allowed to leave. If you’re seen as the follower rather than the leader, your dog may become anxious about your absence.
Common Signs of Separation Anxiety
Pet parents may find that their dogs have been destructive or disruptive when bored or anxious when left alone. When this happens, it’s important to determine whether your dog’s behavior is actually separation anxiety.
Separation anxiety happens when a dog is hyper-attached to his pet parent and suffers extreme stress when they’re gone. Though chewing can become a mischievous habit for some dogs (and corrected with proper training) while their parent is away, there are other excessive behaviors that serve as telling signs for anxiety. A dog showing out-of-the-ordinary stress when left alone may:
- Howl, bark, or whine excessively
- Have indoor accidents, even when housebroken
- Chew items up
- Scratch at windows or doors
- Drool, pant, or salivate more than usual
- Dig or try to escape
It’s important to compare how your dog behaves while you are at home together too. If he follows you from room to room all the time, this shows he is extremely dependent on you. Frantic jumping and excitement when you walk in the door could stem from him being nervous when you are gone. If he begins to pace, drool, or bark excessively before your leave, it may mean he knows he’s going to be left alone and is already stressed.
What Not to Do if Your Dog Shows Signs of Distress
If your dog is showing signs of anxiety while you’re away, it’s important to never punish him for being destructive. Your dog is acting out because he’s nervous while alone, not because he’s trying to get revenge. You should only scold your dog if you catch him in the act.
How to Ease Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety
If you notice sudden changes in your dog’s behavior, speak with your veterinarian first to rule out any medical issues and discuss whether medication is the best route for severe cases. If your dog is in good health and may just need some minor help to lower his stress level while alone, here are a few tips.
Allow for regular exercise and playtime
A tired and well-exercised dog will be less likely to experience boredom while you’re gone or exert their excess energy through negative behaviors. Before heading out the door, try taking your dog for a walk or engaging in a playful activity to reduce stress. Rewarding your dog with a special treat before you leave may also help your dog associate your departure with a positive feeling.
Create a safe zone
Creating an environment where your dog feels safe while you are gone is key to keeping your furry friend calm while you’re away. Many pet parents may consider crate training to keep your dog safe and out of any trouble. However, for some dogs, crates and confined spaces may only induce more stress. If your dog doesn’t do well inside a crate, putting up a gate may be the next best option to keep your dog in a part of the house without complete confinement.
Rely on a dog sitter or doggy daycare
If you need to spend a long duration of time away from home, consider taking your dog to doggy daycare or leaving your best bud with a trusted dog sitter. Having a companion while you’re gone can help alleviate some of your dog’s loneliness without you – and give you peace of mind, too, that your favorite furball has a chance to play and be happy!
Choose a high-quality dog food
A healthy diet is an essential part of your dog’s wellbeing. Feeding a super-premium dog food, such as Bil-Jac Dog Food, and sticking to a feeding routine can help ensure your dog receives the appropriate daily nutrients needed. A proper diet will also provide support should stress and anxiety cause any unhealthy behaviors, such as lack of appetite and weight loss.
Keep calm when leaving and coming home
Your furry friend may often react based on your energy. When you’re preparing to leave the house or after you’ve returned, always act calm. Working your dog up will only reinforce their behavior, rather than showing your dog that coming and going is natural.
It can be a difficult experience when your dog suffers from anxiety while you’re apart. Though some dogs may just be more prone to stress, the goal is to help get your dog to a place where they can tolerate being alone. With a little consistency, a healthy routine and even support from your veterinarian, you can help your dog take the proper strides to managing anxiety when alone.
Looking for more pet parenting information to keep your four-legged family members safe and happy? Join our Best Friends Club to receive our exclusive email newsletter full of informative articles, care tips, and members-only discounts on Bil-Jac dog food, treats, and other products.
Do Dogs Really Miss You When You’re Gone? Signs They Miss You
Have you ever wondered why your dog gets so excited when you return home? We miss our pets when we’re away. But do our dogs miss us back?
Do Our Dogs Miss Us When We’re Away?
Yes, dogs do miss us. Dogs are very loyal and faithful companion animals. Science has proven that dogs do miss us, like what we’d always hoped.
According to Science Alert, the team of Braincraft found out that the caudate nucleus of dogs’ brains, which is a region associated with positive rewards and expectations, lit up when they smelt a familiar human. To test whether dogs miss their owners, the researchers trained the dogs to lay still in an MRI machine.
The dogs were then exposed to five different scents, including their own scent, a familiar and unfamiliar human, and the scent of a familiar and unfamiliar canine. And the result has shown that dogs have favourable reactions to the scent of their owners. Read more: Do Cats Remember Who You Are
Dogs have associative memory – when a dog associates a visual cue, smell or sound with a known behaviour or emotion. Your dog, for instance, may associate car key jingling in your pocket with a familiar behaviour of you opening the front door and may start to cry as you get ready to leave the house. They also learn to associate the scent of their humans with positive experiences.
As your smell becomes a pleasant aromatic for your dog, that association makes for a strong emotional bond. Your dog’s positive associations with you mean that he’s constantly remembering you – he won’t forget about you!
There’s evidence to show that our canine friends remember things the clearest when there are strong emotions attach to the memories. Read more: Things Humans Do That Dogs Dislike
Signs That Your Dog Misses You
1. Your dog cries when you leave.
Does your dog cry when you leave? Dogs that aren’t happy when their owners leave can make noises trying to let their owners know. Bear in mind that dogs are vocal animals.
They tend to use their barking, whining, crying or howling to communicate. When your dog cries when left alone all day, it means that he doesn’t want you to leave the house. Read more: How To Overcome Separation Anxiety
Keep your precious furbaby happy and occupied! Get your pet toys at PerroMart SG / PerroMart MY now!
2. Your dog stares at or sits by the door after you leave.
Does your dog lie down at the front door until you reach home? If your beloved canine friend plants himself by the door when he’s home alone, it might be his way of trying to get out and see you again. This is because your dog doesn’t want to miss an opportunity to see what you’re doing.
3. Your dog is super excited when you reach home.
Most of the dogs are so insanely happy to see their humans come home. They are emotional beings just like us. Like how we greet our family members after coming back home from work, dogs greet their owners with love and wagging tails – and also in the form of licking. Dogs love to be loved. That’s why they are so happy when they are around their humans.
4. Your dog follows you around the house.
Our canine friends always have good reasons for following us everywhere! Dogs are social animals and they do enjoy human companionship. Your clingy furbaby will stick to you like glue and will never let you out of his sight when you’re home. Read more: Why Does My Pet Follow Me To The Bathroom
5. Your dog engages in destructive behaviours while you’re away.
Some dogs are too attached to their owners and may start acting destructively as soon as their owners start to leave for the day. Barking, chewing the furniture, inappropriate elimination are the common signs of separation anxiety in dogs.
Dogs who suffer from separation anxiety may howl or bark all day because they don’t like being left home alone. Read more: 5 Simple Ways To Entertain Your Bored Dog While You’re Away