close modal

Request a Reservation

Pet Lovers


Do Dogs Miss Their Owners? What Dogs Feel When Left Alone

Have you seen the movie trailer for the animated comedy “The Secret Life of Pets”? It shows our dogs partying…

what dogs feel when we leave
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 lay 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.

Small Sad Pug Laying on Hardwood Floor

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 by Separation

White dog missing her owner is looking out the window sadly.

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.  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 absence. 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 tendency 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 Pet Resorts. 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 daycare in Richmond, VA and 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.


Pet Lovers


Hyperactivity in Dogs

We’ve all probably used “hyper” to describe our dogs at one time or another, but being hyperactive is more than…

Pet Lovers


The Psychology Of Dogs and their Toys

I have spent a lifetime observing dogs and the things they do and have had many years at Holiday Barn…

Pet Lovers


Protecting Your Pets from Coyotes

We were extremely saddened to read about the family’s small dog that was killed by a coyote in Chesterfield a…