What does the research tell me?
A study published in Psychology Today revealed that dogs miss us more acutely when we’ve been away for longer stretches. The study, which compiled fMRI data on different dogs, found that canines have some grasp of time. According to the research, pooches greeted their Owners with more gusto after two hours than 30 minutes. However, when researchers measured the dogs after four hours, they found no difference. During these stints of separation, they also displayed negative emotions via their fMRI data.
In other words, dogs can start missing their Owners from the moment they part ways. After that, keep missing them more and more for up to two hours. Beyond the two hour mark, they begin a plateau of melancholy until they see their Owner again.
“Okay, fine,” I hear you say, “but do our dogs miss us, or do they just miss people in general?”
Science has an answer for that too. Another study provided dogs with three different scents: their Owner’s, someone familiar to them, and a stranger’s. In each case, the dog reacted the most positively to their Owner’s scent. Moreover, each pooch was willing to wait by the door when they could no longer detect their Owner’s scent. The same wasn’t true of the other two scents. Unsurprisingly, though, the pups showed more interest in the scent of the familiar person than the stranger.
What are the warning signs that my dog(s) miss me?
Of course, research or no, all dogs are unique. While all may miss their Owners, some will cope better than others with the separation. The question is: which kind is your dog?
If they miss you more than they can bear, your pooch will offer you a few telltale signs. Chewing on your possessions, crying when you leave, and staring at the door after you’ve gone are all key indicators. They’ll also make a really big deal of you returning home; they may lean on your leg, or they might whizz around the house in glee.
Take on the Role of Alpha
You will need to take on the role of alpha/leader with your dog to make it feel safe and comfortable. This means providing them with plenty of structure. If you let them do whatever they want, it will take them much longer to adjust to their home entirely. A lack of structure tends to bring all sorts of behavior issues, so you’ll need to keep that in mind.
Do Dogs Really Miss Us When We Leave the House?
Anyone with a dog knows that its hard to leave them every day. They always want to come with you, and look so sad when they realise youre going out without them.
But are they really missing you, or do they just want to explore the outside world?
As the latest episode of BrainCraft explains, theres neuroscientific evidence to show that dogs really DO miss us – just like wed always hoped.
BrainCrafts creator Vanessa describes a very cool recent study, where a scientist trains a dog to lay still in an MRI machine, so they could study its brain activity.
During the research, the team found that dogs really do understand what their owners are saying. But it also tested whether they miss us, by exposing the dog in the MRI machine to five different scents – its own, the scent of a familiar and unfamiliar dog, and a familiar and unfamiliar human.
Interestingly, when the dogs smelt a familiar human, the caudate nucleus of their brains lit up – a region associated with positive expectations and rewards.
Another study looked at how dogs behaved with people of varying levels of familiarity – their owner, a stranger and a familiar human – and found that dogs clearly miss their owners more than anyone else, and will wait behind the door they left through in anticipation of their return. Aw.
Although its still unclear whether dogs are aware of the length of time theyre left alone for, research suggests that theyre more excited to greet their owner if theyre left alone for two hours than 30 minutes. But between two and four hours theres not much difference.
But we do know that dogs process s faster than our slow human eyes do. Watch the episode above to find out more, and see what dogs are really doing while youre away – no wonder our phone bill is so high.
And find out more about whether dogs really understand what were saying in the episode of Its Okay To Be Smart below.