This may be an unpopular answer, but I don't think dogs miss us a whole lot when we're not home.
My dog is rarely home alone during the average day. When he is, he just sleeps.
I don't believe he thinks much about me at all. I don't believe he sits and pines over me or wonders “When is she coming back?” Or, “What am I going to do?”
He knows I'm coming back, and that is the routine. Like me, my dog finds comfort in routine.
But when the routine is different, my dog does seem to feel anxious.
Packing for a trip … loading the car …
And sometimes (usually), he whines in these situations because, I assume, he doesn't know if he gets to go along. He doesn't know what the routine is.
What about when we leave our pets with a sitter or at a boarding kennel?
I've worked in the pet boarding/pet sitting/dog walking industry since 1999, and I have not seen much evidence of dogs missing their owners. (This doesn't mean they don't miss their owners. They just don't show it.)
Most dogs adapt within a few hours, especially if they're put on a routine – walking at this time, eating at this time – and given calm affection and rules.
I've had the opportunity to see this from many angles – dogs getting dropped off at a large boarding kennel where I worked, dogs getting dropped off at my house and owners leaving their dogs at their own homes for me (the pet sitter) to visit.
Routine and calm consistency are key in all these situations.
Still, just because a dog accepts the current situation and is having a great time playing with other dogs or even just lunging around in a kennel, it doesn't mean he's not thinking about his owners. It doesn't mean he does not miss his owners.
Why wouldn't he be thinking about them? And missing them?
Don't we miss our homes and routines when we go on vacation, even while having a great time? I do.
But, my point of view as a petcare provider is that dogs usually don't fret about us too much, especially if the pet sitter gives them treats or if the boarding kennel has a cute cocker spaniel to play with.
Sure, our dogs might miss us a bit while we're gone. We like to think they do, at least, but we often beat ourselves up too much about leaving in the first place. This isn't necessary.
Find a great kennel. Find a great pet sitter. Your dog will be OK.
What do the rest of you think?
Does your dog seem to miss you when you travel?
*Photo of Ace by Tawna.
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