Does my dog miss me?

I didn’t see my mutt Ace for more than two weeks while I traveled across North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and California last month. Ace got to stay with my parents in Wisconsin.

I missed Ace terribly. But did he miss me? Nope.

One mistake people make is to project human emotions to their dogs. It’s easy to do. I admit it made me feel better to believe Ace and my cats missed me. In reality, they probably forgot I left. Someone else was feeding them, playing with them and giving them affection. That’s about all they care about. It’s part of being an animal and living in the moment.

When I drove away from my parents’ house without Ace last month, he paced and watched me intently. He was anxious when he realized I was leaving him behind because his usual routine is to be with me.

But the second my car was out of sight, Ace immediately moved on. Instead of pining over me, he grabbed his tennis ball and followed my mom and her dogs around. Whether or not I was coming back was not really an issue for Ace. When I finally did return, he was happy. But he would’ve been happy to see anyone, especially someone holding a tennis ball.

When I went to get Ace, he was happy to see me just because I was there, not because I’d been gone a long time. Once he saw me, he forgot I had been gone in the first place. He was like, “Oh, hey! Didn’t see ya there!”

Dogs react to our emotions

Black lab mix dog lying in the grass wearing an e-collar. Do dogs miss us?If I were to walk out and get the mail and come back acting like I hadn’t seen my dog in two weeks, he would greet me with matching energy.

If you don’t know what I mean, give it a try.

Walk to the end of your driveway without your dog. Then go back inside, call out “Ace! I haven’t seen you forever, buddy!” and get down on your hands and knees. Your dog will use this opportunity to soak up some extra attention by rolling on the ground in front of you, licking you or at least wagging his tail.

It’s not that your dog is faking anything. It’s just that he truly picks up on your energy. That’s why people love dogs!

You could also try the same experiment, only this time walk through the door and completely ignore your dog. Don’t talk to him. Don’t touch him. Don’t even look in his direction. You will get a very different response than the first time you walked through the door.

If you want to teach your dog to be calm when people visit, the first step is to stop training him to act so excited every time you come home! It’s unfair to expect him to act one way when you come home and another way when guests visit.

A dog’s concept of time

Ace had no idea I’d been gone for two weeks.

One of the reasons I’m able to leave my dog when I travel is because I know he has a great time when I’m gone. If he thought about me at all, he wasn’t thinking about why I left, and he definitely had no concept of how long I’d been gone. Instead, he was thinking about his food, his toys, smelling the Wisconsin breeze and following my mom’s dogs around. I’m convinced he did not think about me at all.

Dogs do not worry about the past or the future. They make the best out of their current situations. It’s the reason why dogs can adapt to new homes or life in a shelter.

Ace adapted just fine when I adopted him from his previous owner. I like to think there’s something special about me, but Ace would adapt just fine to a third or a fourth home. As far as Ace is concerned, anyone willing to throw a tennis ball could provide him a pretty good home.

My dog is mad at me for leaving

I do a lot of pet sitting in Solana Beach, and I also worked at a boarding kennel for years. Through these jobs I’ve dealt with dog owners of all kinds. Many dog owners don’t understand their dogs and want to believe their dogs are pining over them the whole time they’re gone.

The dogs I take care of are always, always having a great time without their owners. Most dogs are going to have a great time with someone willing to walk them, run them, play with them, pet them and feed them. It’s very basic.

Does my black lab mix Ace miss me? Do dogs miss us when we're gone?Whenever Ace has stayed with anyone new or at a boarding kennel, he comes home exhausted from the extra mental and physical stimulation. He is somewhat introverted like me and needs to “recharge” after being around new people or new places. He will sleep for a good 36 hours when he comes home. The more tired he is, the more fun I know he had.

It’s as though Ace is thinking, “Well, there’s nothing going on here, time to catch up on some sleep.”

This lethargic behavior can cause dog owners to believe their dogs are holding grudges against them for leaving. This is not true at all. A dog is not capable of holding a grudge, because that would involve holding onto the past. If your dog is acting differently when you bring him home, it’s most likely because he’s tired.

I know that when my dog comes home from a pet sitter’s house or a kennel, he is just catching up on some well-needed rest. He is not sick or depressed, and he has no bad feelings towards me for leaving him.

I’m tired after a vacation or a day of hard work, and so is my dog. It’s as simple as that.

In what ways do you accidentally humanize your dog? How does your dog act when you come home?

Get That Mutt’s newsletter in your inbox:

178 thoughts on “Does my dog miss me?”

  1. That’s all so true, and such a relief to know. I’m one of those compulsive “projectors” with Pepper, and I am always reading things into her behavior. It’s hard to stop… ;~} Also I see it really creates a feedback loop like you mentioned, from me to Pepper and then to me, I react and it goes back to her… That’s such a key concept. I know of people who have sacrificed lots of opportunity because they are afraid to board their dog for fear of “scarring it for life emotionally” somehow — I’m off to email this column to some friends!! Good to have you back up on my Google Reader, you have been missed. Arf!

  2. Lindsay Stordahl

    I’m glad to hear you agree with me and that you will send the post to some friends. It’s really hard to remember to treat our dogs like dogs. They’re better off that way.

    I’m glad you missed me! 🙂

  3. Glad you’re back. You are so right about projecting human emotions on dog. It is just so easy to do. I got all of my current dogs as adults and they didn’t look back at their owners. Of course I didn’t tell the humans that

  4. Lindsay Stordahl

    It is easy to do. I do it all the time, but I like to believe I am at least aware of it. That’s funny that none of your dogs have looked back. 🙂

  5. Ha! Yeah, Gus howls and destroys the house if we leave him alone so he goes to daycare. We take him in and he knows they’ll give him a bunch of attention and he never looks back at us! It does seem like he’s attached to us since he gets really excited when we pick him up or when I come home. However, I know that he just wants attention from someone, anyone. He cheats on us all the time! Haha!

  6. Wonderful post and very timely. We’re going on holiday in 3 weeks and Amigo will stay at a kennel for the first time, so I’ve been wondering about all this.
    Mayra

  7. Lindsay Stordahl

    Guess it depends. I know I’ve lost my temper and yelled at Ace more than I should have and he forgets about two minutes later even though I feel bad. But he’s not going to forget training mistakes that have been repeated such as me being too lenient about him barking at the door.

  8. Biggie doesn’t look back at all when he goes to day care or the kennel. The last time he dragged me to the pick up van and jumped in before I even had a chance to say goodbye! I’m the only who looks back… I feel a little sad, but wouldn’t have it any other way because I know he loves it and is having a great time.

    As for “missing” us – when he is home alone, when one of us comes back from work he is pretty happy, but he really gets happy when the second person comes home, because that means the flock is complete. My husband and I used to joke that meant he loved one or the other of us better, but what it really is is that he loves the 2nd person better that day! 🙂

  9. I am very guilty of humanizing my pup. For me the trigger is food. If I am eating something and he looks my way I feel immense guilt if I don’t give him a bit. It is as if he would resent me if I did not share. When I see dogs fight over food, I realise they have no human like expectations of sharing. In fact it seems to be a mark of a good leader to grab all the food.

  10. I still think my dog misses me when I leave. And I only say this because when my MIL comes over to watch the dogs, she tells me that Trooper sits on the couch or chair and watches out the window after I leave. A couple of hours before I’m due home he plants himself there and waits…and apparently knows the sound of my car (though I’m not so sure of that one).

    The other dogs don’t do this…just Trooper. 🙂 He’s my baby.

    Hubby definitely humanizes all our dogs though. He is having an issue with me wanting to kennel them when I go into labor. He thinks its mean. WTH?!?! They’re going to LOVE it. lol

  11. Lindsay Stordahl

    I bet Trooper wants his pack to be together.

    Ace will sometimes sit and cry if I go outside without him when he expected to go along for a walk. He will also cry sometimes if I leave him in the car in a new place.

  12. I found this blog while looking for some help. I love my dogs as though they were my children. All three. They sleep in the bed. They have to have at least one bite of whatever I am eating. I fuss over them all the time. They fight for my attention. They don’t even want to go outside and play unless I go with them. They want to be with me 24/7. Sometimes I put them in the backyard and close the door hopeing they will play and have a good time without me. Nope. They sit and stare at the door. Other then barking at people knocking at the door they are very well behaved. My work day takes me away for about 11.5 hours and when I come home everything is excactly the way I left it. I have never left them anywhere overnight. I don’t know if I ever will. I know this is all my fault. I just want my dogs to be able to play and have fun without me being involved. I am their pack leader and they do whatever I do. They have a big fenced in yard, lots of toys, platforms to lay on, porches, lots of shade and plenty of fresh water to drink. Yet still they act sad and bored unless I am with them. Right now they are all stareing at the door waiting for me to come open it. I feel so guilty.

  13. Lindsay Stordahl

    Are you sure they see you as their pack leader? One of the causes of “separation anxiety” is when the dog thinks she is the leader and therefore does not want to let “her” pack out of sight.

    You say your dogs have tons of treats and toys, but do you walk them for an hour a day? When you do walk them, are they pulling you down the street? Who’s walking who? Increased exercise in a controlled manner will benefit the dogs and help them to just chill out when you get back home.

    If you want the dogs to have more interaction when you’re gone, you could take them to dog daycare. This would also help build their socialization skills with other dogs and encourage them to play more.

  14. Who said anything about seperation anxiety? Sorry, but you are way off. You have come to some conclusions that are entirely off base. I wanted a little conversation among dog lovers. Not a lesson on how to care for my dogs. Thanks anyway.

  15. Lindsay Stordahl

    OK, I apologize. I did not mean any kind of extreme anxiety, just slightly since the dogs want to be with you at all times. When my dog wants to follow me everywhere, I consider that slight separation anxiety.

    Good luck with your dogs.

  16. I think the girls miss the structure and familiarity, but that can be provided by any human.

    I think ur post is spot on Lindsay.. James I have the same with my two girls, and I think Lindsay is right with the seperation anxiety… My Danes are with me 24/7 moreso now for many reasons… the best gift I can give them is to be ‘happy’ dogs in my absence. Im sure Lindsay meant no disrespect to you or your dogs, she is just giving sound advice

  17. Well i have been gone for two weeks at college and i left my two huskies at home. my parents tell me that Ava (female) doesnt show any sign of missing me but Ajaxx (male) goes to my bedroom door and starts howling, he will pace around my bed and search every room. he has never done this and will do it a couple times a day. They also told me hell look out the window every time a car rolls by. which is another thing we never seen him do.

  18. Lindsay Stordahl

    It will be interesting to see how long he continues this behavior and if he does it after you visit and leave again. I’m sure Ajaxx and Ava will both be thrilled when you go home to visit!

  19. My dog doesn’t seem to have any separation problems, in fact, when we come back home he doesn’t even come to greet us. He’s a lovely boy who seems to enjoy training and walking, but he never wags his tail in happiness or looks enthusiastic. He is loved, never shouted at, played with etc and has company all day. (He does wag is tail for new people, but once he has met you once, he doesn’t feel the need). Is there something I could do to get that tail wagging?

  20. Lindsay Stordahl

    A dog doesn’t have to wag his tail to be happy. A wagging tail can mean many things – excitement, aggression, stress, agitation and yes playfulness and happiness.

    I’m not sure you want to encourage excited behavior in your dog. He sounds calm, and that’s what most dog owners want! But I’m sure you could get that tail going with certain food, using your voice a certain way, getting out a toy he loves or going to the dog park.

  21. Thank you Lindsay. You’re absolutely right, I don’t want an over excited dog, but it would be lovely if he would acknowledge us from time to time – it really is quite extreme. I’m not sure if he feels so loved that he doesn’t have to beg for attention, if he thinks he’s the pack leader and doesn’t have to bother or if he’s just a dog of very few words. If I can’t change it, it would help to understand it – he’s a Cairn terrier

  22. He might think he’s the pack leader, especially if you are always running up to him seeking attention. From a dog’s point of view, if he’s the leader, he doesn’t have to approach anyone. His followers come to him.

    Your cairn terrier is probably just relaxed and comfortable in his environment. There are dogs of all personalities, same with humans. There are people (and dogs) who are calm all the time and don’t show emotion or excitement.

  23. I think you’re probably right, but today he wagged his tail at us twice, which is amazing. We’ll work on our pack leader approach which I’m sure will help us all. Thanks for your help.

  24. Hi, could do with some advice. We have 2 dogs and are going on holiday next week for 1 week while they are going to stay with a pet sitter. Butch (dog) is really soft, clingy and loves lots of cuddles and I am really worried he will miss us too much. Belle (bitch) is not so bad as she is quite independant and likes playing in the garden alone or with Butch so I am not so worried about her. Do you think they will be ok?

  25. Don’t worry about Butch. He will be fine, and will likely become great friends with the pet sitter. I am a pet sitter, and the dogs are always just fine. It’s the humans who are in rough shape leaving their dogs! Don’t make a big deal out of leaving, and that will help him adjust better. Remember you can always call to check on them. Enjoy your trip!

    You may be interested in these other related posts related to what to expect from a pet sitter:

    http://www.thatmutt.com/2009/02/10/questions-to-ask-a-pet-sitter/

    http://www.thatmutt.com/2009/02/21/what-to-consider-before-hiring-a-pet-sitter/

  26. Introduce your dog to more people slowly. This will take time and patience. Make sure you are not coddling and comforting your dog when she’s acting insecure. This only shows her she has a reason to be scared. I wrote a post on how to get dogs used to children if they are scared of kids. You should follow these tips, only with people of all ages, not just kids: http://www.thatmutt.com/2009/08/19/dog-scared-of-children/

  27. I have the exact same problem James. The dogs think I need to be out in the yard with them. They will ignore me when I am out there, sniff around and do their thing but if I go inside, they follow. Wont stay out by themselves when I am home. I have two mals that get along great, they wrestle and play but I think they only do it when I am home to supervise. If I go out of town and leave them at the kennel they go on a hunger strike for several days.

  28. Lindsay Stordahl

    Ace does the same thing. If he’s outside by himself, he just sits by the door and waits for me.

    Many dogs won’t eat when they go somewhere new because there is too much going on that they won’t take the time to eat. They don’t want to miss out on anything. I see this happen all the time when I’m pet sitting. Instead of eating, the dog wants to play or sniff or explore. Even my own dog will do this when we travel somewhere new and I’m right there with him. He might not eat for two days.

  29. I did a bad thing. I took on a rescue dog as a “foster” without getting agreement from my partner (he was away for the weekend and she was here when he got home!). I had been inquiring at a rescue society looking for a companion dog for my Lola, my schnoodle and in the process of the property inspection and meeting little Lexi, I agreed to try her out for awhile, and wound up hoping she would win over my partner and we could officially adopt her. She turned out to be a great little dog with a very sweet disposition and big, long-lashed eyes that melt your heart. But, she has been work…my dog is lukewarm toward her at best and the two of them together have created a muddy racetrack around the tree in our backyard which gets brought into the house (my partner is anal about dirt, so 8 paws must be wiped many, many times!!) Well i got an email tonight from the rescue group that 2 good appplications have been received for Lexi and my partner says she has to go. Even though he really likes her, he doesn’t want to deal with the extra work and hassle of a second dog. (we share our current dog with my ex and she leaves us to go to his house half the time with my daughter so we are just part time permanent pet owners. )

    To my point: I’m feeling very sad to let her go and my daughter is quite upset. Mostly I am kicking myself for doing this because I brought the heartache on myself. I realize it was a stupid thing to do. Reading this blog has helped me somewhat but I still need a little reassurance to get over the sadness of thinking that Lexi will miss us. I console my daughter by telling her that Lexi’s forever home will be screened and shell definitely go to a family that will love her as much as we do. I’d like to think she won’t miss us and that she’ll move happily on to a new family and life and won’t be further “messed up” because of my rash decision to keep her and having it not pan out. She’s been through quite enough turmoil in her young life, from being brought to an overcrowded shelter in LA as a stray, to being adopted, then returned because of kennel cough, then contracting pneumonia and then rescued a day before she would have been killed, flown to Canada, sent to foster care, then moved to our home for a week (she won us over in a very short time) and now to be uprooted once again. I feel very guilty and ashamed of myself. Tell me she won’t miss me (she is sleeping on my bed, probably her last night here).

  30. Lindsay Stordahl

    I hate to break it to you but she will not miss you. After a day or so, she will move on and she will be happy in her new, loving home. You should be proud of yourself for helping this dog. It is not easy to foster a dog and then see her go, but think of the positive things such as how happy this family will be to get the dog. Don’t make it hard on the dog by being too emotional when she goes to her new home. Just give her plenty of exercise first and then treat it like it’s no big deal when she leaves. Good luck!

  31. Thanks for breaking it to me, it’s what I wanted! I’m not feeling as sad as when I posted, and it will be awhile before she is adopted, there are a couple people interested in her but they have to pass inspection. I’m trying hard to tell everyone I know about her so maybe she will go to someone I know will provide a good home and also we can stay in touch.

    Thanks for the kind words!

  32. Hi Lindsay! I found this page after googling “will my dog be happy in her new home?” I am very guilty of projecting my all-too-human emotions onto my dog, Gracie. This coming weekend we are driving her to a new home near Boston (we live in upstate NY). I’ve known the owners-to-be for 4 years although I have not met them in person. I think they are great people, they are home more than we are and more active than we are and Gracie will be getting a lot more exercise than she currently gets. I think it will be a great home for her, once she gets settled, but I’m worried about the beginning of the transition. We live too far apart for me to be able to drop by sometimes and check on her, and I imagine my poor sweet girl moping and pining for me. She was supposed to be a foster dog for us, but she’s been with us for 5 years. She and my first dog Archie do not get along and have had some terrible fights. She gets along with some dogs but not Archie! We are trying for a baby and have come to the realization that 3 dogs, 2 of which don’t get along, is too much to manage with a baby in the house. We are also having to rent out part of our house so the “crate and rotate” routine is not going to be possible any longer. So this loving family is eager to adopt our Gracie and I’m glad for that… but I’m hoping I’m more attached to her than she is to me. She’s such a lovely dog, so smart and athletic and sweet. I hate to give her up and never thought in a million years I would rehome any of my dogs. Tell me she’ll bounce right back and be perfectly happy with her new family… tell me she won’t miss me!

  33. Lindsay Stordahl

    She’ll be fine. The best thing you can do for her is not make a big deal out of dropping her off. Crying, getting emotional will make her worried. Perhaps you could go for a nice long walk with her before you drop her off as a way of saying goodbye (for your sake) and to help her feel more relaxed in her new home where she is likely to feel anxious at least that first night. Don’t worry that you won’t be able to visit her. The transition will be easier for the dog if she doesn’t see you for awhile. If you and the new owners agree to have you come visit once Gracie is settled, that should be just fine. But remember, it is up to the new owners to decide this because Gracie will be their dog.

    You are making a wonderful choice. Too many people hold onto dogs when it’s not ideal because society looks down on people who “give up” dogs. It’s not always a bad thing to re-home an animal. You obviously love all your dogs.

  34. Thank you! We are actually sticking around for the weekend since it’s such a long haul to their place – we’re going to get there as early as possible Saturday and spend the day playing in her new yard and walking around her new neighborhood with the new owners. We’ll stay at a hotel overnight and let Gracie spend the night with the new owners, then come back in the morning and hang out for a while before we say goodbye! The new owners have already said that we can come visit sometime down the road so I’m looking forward to a friendship with them! I’m taking her familiar blankets, Kongs and other toys and hope that the presence of those things will help ease any anxiety she feels. I’ll do my best to be cheerful when we leave, and save the tears for the ride home! I love her so very much, I just want her to be happy and I want to do right by my other dogs, too.

  35. Lindsay Stordahl

    I think you are doing the right thing, even though it’s hard! And it sounds like you are going about it the right way. Good luck!

  36. I am so glad I read your article. I have been on vacation and boarding my dog “Bella” for 12 days. I have been so full of guilt thinking that she must feel so abandoned. Especially since it is the first time I have left her. I have just been wanting to go home so I can see her and make sure she is alright. Now–after reading your article, I can just relax and enjoy the last 3 days of my vacation. She has been at a pet retreat and I am sure she has been having the time of her life playing and socializing the entire time.

    Thank you

  37. I read ur article and I really want to believe that this is true but its hard. I tried the expirement that u mention in this article…I left him with my parent…(i still live with them since I am 17) and whent for a 5 minute walk-came home and acted like I hadn’t seen him in years….he was so happy. My parent told me that they had tried to play with him and that during the first minute or so he played with them fine but then he jumped of the sofa and looked all over the house (apperently for me) then he came to stand in front of the door until I came back. He didnt pay attention to my parents until I came back no matter how much they try to play with him….the next day I did the same experiment only that I ignore him and he went balistic…he started to bark and whine and to walk right in front of me to get attention…once again my parents stated that they had tried to play with him only to be ignore by the dog who stood in front of the door the whole time…My dad even try to called his attention with a piece of apple (we often use them as treats) but the dog just left them apple in the floor. What can I do…Everybody (my parents-brothers-and neighbore) tell me that he acts this way when I am not around and I am scared since I am going on vacation for seven days in the summer (high school graduation gift from my parents) but I couldn’t possible spent 7 days in a cruise without sleeping worring about my dog standing by the door or acting depress. Please give me some advice. I need anything u got please… also excuse me if something seems odd in my writing…English is not my first language and I am still getting the hang of all the grammar rule…

  38. Lindsay Stordahl

    Enjoy your trip and try not to worry about your dog. He’ll be just fine, I promise 🙂

    I do pet sitting as my full-time job, and trust me every single dog is just fine without his or her owner. Many dogs do feel anxious at first though. Some dogs cry or pace or want to look for their owners at the door for a few minutes and some for the first couple hours. After that first day, the dogs are always fine because they begin to adjust to my routine. This isn’t because the dogs don’t love their owners, it’s because dogs live in the moment. They are happy to be with me and my dog and then they are very happy to see their owners again when they come back.

    Anxiousness is a state of mind that many dogs are in when they are dropped off at a new place. It doesn’t help that their owners are usually excited and end up getting their dogs even more anxious and excited.The person taking care of the dog usually responds to the excitement with more excitement, making things even worse. This is probably what your friends and family members do with your dog. They probably say things like “Where’s Caralian? Huh? Huh?” and talk in excited voices.

    As hard as it is, the best thing a pet owner or anyone taking care of the dog can do is be calm, reward calm behavior and take the dog out on a structured walk. This helps the dog get used to his new surroundings. After that, it’s best to reward the dog when he’s calm and lying still rather than to get him all riled up again by talking or playing exciting games. Save those fun things for when the dog is a bit more relaxed.

    Good luck, and your English is great!

  39. Thanks you so much. Has anyone ever told you that you are a really good person? Now I am about to ask for another piece of advice…sorry for all the trouble…I will be leaving my dog at granma’s place since my parents are going with me and the only person who will be at my house is my brother who is not the most responsable person in the world…also my grandma is a freaquand visitor at my own house so my dog already know who she is and aknoleges her as a part of her family. Do you consider it be nice if I take my dog to grandma’s a couple of times before I go on my trip?….I was thinking of going with him and staying with my dog and grandma for a few hours…then we both go back home together and a few day after that go to grandma’s again but let him stay the night then come back, then another time 2 nights in a row and so on until he gets use to spending time in grandma’s. Do you think this might be nice for him? Thanks for the time to answer…

  40. Lindsay Stordahl

    Thanks. Not sure if anyone has told me that or not.

    I think your idea of gradually leaving your dog with your grandma for short periods at first and then longer and longer is a great idea. It will help your dog feel more comfortable at her house. It will also help your grandma feel more comfortable with him. And you will feel better about leaving him.

  41. I’m new to this conversation and here is my situation. I have two dogs, a 12-year-old Bichon/Shihtzu and one of (3) of her 9 year old grown pups. My brother and his family have owned one of the other pups, and since we live in the same vacinity, we all see each other constantly. They have recently had to move to an area that doesn’t allow dogs, so as heartbreaking as it has been, they’ve decided to give the dog to their daughter who lives about 12 hours away. I begged to have the dog, but they feel strongly that he will be better with her, as they would like to keep a connection with her and it was originally her dog. I love this little dog dearly and have been in tears for weeks. He has been allowed to stay with me during the time between the move and when the daughter can come get him. Well that time came 2 days ago, and I’m devestated. I cried when he left, which I now know was probably more stressful for him. I know I would have made his life really great, but I also know that I do humanize and tend to spoil. But I have nice dogs.

  42. Lindsay Stordahl

    I’m sorry that you miss the dog, but ultimately it was the dog’s owner’s decision. The dog will likely do well in her new home.

    Since you love dog’s so much and can provide a good home for dogs, you could always consider fostering or adopting another dog from a shelter or rescue in your area. Just be careful not to get too attached to the dog unless you really are prepared to adopt.

  43. You hve no idea how much better this made me feel. I was looking forward to coming home from vacation before we even left because I have been so upset about leaving my dogs. I have two step sons and no biological children of my own, so I feel like they are my sons. Thank you for this!

  44. Lindsay Stordahl

    It is hard to leave them, isn’t it? You can be sure your dogs are having a great time without you! Glad I could help! 🙂

  45. I have an English springer spaniel who is 6 years old. We have always taken him on vacation with us since the day we got him! We have no children and we adore him and have definitely humanized him! We are traveling with friends for 10 days and cannot take him! We are leaving in a couple of weeks, and I am already having anxieties. His groomer is keeping him for us and he adores her and vice versa. She has three other dogs in the house and will even sleep with him if he desires. This is the best scenario. He will be very safe, yet, I still worry about him missing us! We will take his toys and special things. I guess some reassurance that he will be fine and not have the separation anxiety that I am alrady feeling. Your posts and responses are making me feel much better, however!

  46. Lindsay Stordahl

    He will probably do fine since he knows the groomer and will have three other dogs to keep him busy. If he shows signs of separation anxiety when you leave him home alone at your house, he will probably act that way at the groomer’s house. If he is fine when you leave him alone normally, he will probably be fine when she has to leave him for short periods.

    As for missing you, he will be having way too much fun playing! But he’ll be so happy to see you when you return!

  47. Hey there. I had been fostering a dog for six months. I had grown attached to him but knew I couldn’t permanently keep him with my current situation. He got adopted yesterday. I was so happy he got a home, but at the same time my heart is very broken. Will he forget me? I want him to. I am sure he has moved on, but in my head I feel like he misses me. If a dog will never see you again, do they quickly move on? Put my mind at ease, please!

  48. Lindsay Stordahl

    Dogs have the great ability to move on very quickly, like within weeks or days. Some move on within minutes. That doesn’t mean the dog won’t remember you if he ever sees you again. It just means the dog is making the best of what he has at that very moment.

  49. I have just returned after being away nine days for Christmas. The breeder of my tiny, 3-pound, 2-year-old yorkie kept her. Back in the summer, I had a pet sitter for about five days and she came to our home. In both cases, they each told me that our fur baby was depressed and would not eat. The breeder went so far as to say that if we were ever permanently separated from her, she does not feel our little one would survive. She is very attached to us, to me somewhat more than my hubby. She has appeared to have separation anxiety whenever we are away from her. We love her very much and worry about future separations.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I’m so sorry to hear your little yorkie does not do well when you are not around. I’m sure this is very hard for you as well. Have you tried leaving her for short periods at a daycare or with trusted friends? Hopefully this could get her slowly used to being apart from you, especially if that person takes her for a walk or does something with her that she loves doing.

      It does sound like your dog has some separation anxiety. You may be interested in my post on dog separation anxiety and how to help a dog that has it: http://www.thatmutt.com/2010/05/08/dog-separation-anxiety-2/

      You may also be interested in my post about what to do if your dog won’t eat.
      http://www.thatmutt.com/2009/12/27/my-dog-wont-eat/
      Dogs are animals with instincts that tell them to eat when they are hungry, and they will not starve themselves to death. They will eat when they are hungry enough. I’ve seen a lot of small dogs especially that will go days without eating and they are fine.

  50. I think that dogs do miss their masters because on a trip to Barbados, we toured the Island on a small bus. While passing a cemetery, I had seen a fresh grave nearby with a dog stretched out on it, just lying there. It broke my heart. I had read or seen on the Internet of a dog in Japan who met his master at the train station every day. One day the master hadn’t arrived and the dog kept coming back.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Dogs do love to roll in freshly dug up dirt. Just saying. They would also be interested in the smells there. Plus it would be cooler.

      I don’t buy that train story, at least not in the way we have sensationalized it. Sure, that dog loved his master very much and they had a routine. The story is much simpler than we make it out to be. I realize this is a “true” story and the dog is famous, I just believe we humans look waaaay too much into it and humanize the dog.

  51. Let me point out that anyone who claims that dogs only understand the here and now and don’t miss people, don’t recognise colors, don’t have memories of what Christmas is, that dogs like cats will love whoever owns them and not grieve over the loss of an owner or family member, etc., is ignorant. Any person who claims any of these things obviously keeps their dog outside or in a suitcase and doesn’t have a family-oriented dog.

    My dog sees even the hint of wrapping paper or the Christmas tree and goes nuts and begins to search the room for his gift immediately. He also will often confuse things for being his leash, as he did the other night. His leash, both handle and retractable cord, is blue. Three electrical cords against the wall, one red, one green, one blue. He will from time to time, when excited,(if the room is dimly lit), attempt to pick up the blue cable, temporarily believing it to be the cord part of his leash. When I was younger and lived with my parents, I had a poodle that was obviously “my dog” as he was dedicated to me as opposed to others in the family. I left home to live on my own eventually and for the first week I was gone my prants said the dog would just sit at the front door at night (around our usual bedtime) and howl and howl for me.

    There are true stories about dogs that have laid down on their dead masters’ graves and died there grieving for their “late” masters. I know of several accounts where my dogs have grieved because I was gone as well as my present dog. And he definitely knows what Christmas is about (at least as much as a 3-year-old kid does)!! Sometimes when he displays his intelligence, I think I see 4 or 5 (human) years old in him.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Of course dogs have feelings and grieve lots family members. Of course they have memories. It’s amazing what they can remember! But they also have the great ability to live in the moment. This is not a bad thing. It’s just different than humans.

      I have had dozens of dogs stay in my home through my pet sitting business and every single dog is happy to adjust to my routine immediately. They do not pine over their owners. They are, however, thrilled when their owners return!

      None of us really know whether or not dogs miss us or think about us when we are not around. We don’t truly know how a dog understands time. When I go on vacation and leave my dog, I miss him very much but I take comfort in knowing that he has a great time staying with my parents or a pet sitter. My dog is definitely a family oriented dog. He goes with me everywhere. He gets to do things that most dogs never get to do. All of his socialization has helped him feel confident and comfortable when I leave him with someone else.

      Does he miss me when I’m gone? I don’t really know. More likely, he’s thinking about who is going to throw the ball for him next!

  52. You’re wrong on many points. When I leave for the weekend, (every week) my pitbull Bella will be miserable until I come back, even with my family who she’s with every day. She whines and cries, won’t go outside, and she stays on the steps, staring at the door, waiting. When I return, she is the happiest.. Also, my dog years ago died by a broken heart after my other dog died. They were companions and grew up with eachother.. She missed him so much, like me and my dog. So you’re wrong sir.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I made a lot of generalizations in this post, and I’m glad you are arguing with me.

      Of course dogs grieve. Of course dogs miss us. But what I’m getting at here is that dogs pick up on the emotions of everyone around them. If we are sad, our dogs are sad. If we are anxious, our dogs are anxious. If we are excited, our dogs are excited. There’s no way around this. Dogs have an admirable ability to move on much more quickly than we do.

      Does your dog miss you when you are gone? Of course she does. But she is also picking up on the energy and emotions of everyone else in your family. I’m assuming you feel guilty leaving her so she in turn feels sad. I’m sure your family wishes you didn’t have to go, so Bella in turn feels anxiety about this as well. Dogs are also easily conditioned to act a certain way in certain situations. Since this has been going on for quite some time, she doesn’t know how to change her state of mind when you leave.

      I know your dog loves you very much. That’s obvious. Thank you for your comment.

  53. That does make sense.. And I’m sure like others here, I just.. Hate the thought of my Bella moving on with ease, you know? It just feels.. Wrong. But live for the moment, I know. When I read your post Lindsay, I’ll be honest, it made me think dogs were just emotion less, you know?

  54. Lindsay Stordahl

    Dogs are full of emotions. They just are not as aware of their emotions as we are.

    I was a bit insensitive when I wrote this post. It’s hard to leave our dogs, and some dogs (and humans) handle the separation differently than others. My dog feels anxious when my boyfriend and I separate on hikes and other outdoor activities. He wants us to all be together. I don’t know if this is because he feels the need to keep track of us or if it just feels wrong to him when we separate.

    Thanks for admitting that part of the reason your dog might feel sad is because deep down you want her to miss you. I understand that. That’s part of being human, I guess. I want my dog to miss me, too. But I do know it’s better for him if he knows how to feel relaxed and have fun without me.

  55. I enjoyed your post and reading everyone else’s. I know I humanize my dog. I tend to think my pug Bella does miss me especially since my mom tells me things like “oh the first day or two when u were gone she wouldn’t eat she missed u so” I am a little nervous though because I am leaving for vacation in three days and she will be staying with a friend for eight days and I have this fear she will not miss me or want to come back hOme with me. They have two dogs of there own so I know she will get lots of attentiOn and love and that I am glad of because I don’t want her to be all sad and missing me while I’m gone, but I also want her to want to come home when I return. Silly I know

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Oh my gosh. Your dog will be thrilled to see you! Don’t worry! 🙂 She may be a little tired when you get back and appear to be depressed, but that will be just because she is catching up on well-needed rest from her vacation, just like you!

  56. I really enjoyed reading your post because it makes me feel so much better about going away for a few days without my puppy (Tsuki – long hair mini doxie). She’s year old and one of my greatest fears is that she will “forget” about me while I am gone. I think that I want to monopolize her thoughts or something, haha! Sounds a bit possesive but I think it kind of explains my separation anxiety with her. But I know now that she will be enjoying the moment and having a blast, which means I should also have a blast and not worry about her thinking why am I not home yet.

  57. Lindsay Stordahl

    Your dog will be just fine 🙂 I definitely have a bit of separation anxiety when I am away from my dog, so I know exactly what you mean! You will enjoy yourself more if you trust that your dog is in good hands while you are away.

  58. Can’t say I fully agree with this article, over all it likely applies to a lot of dogs with a happy-go-lucky disposition, however that is only one category of dogs and not all dogs have that personality.

    There are also a lot of dogs that have separation anxiety or that follow certain people like a shadow. When that person is gone and/or they’re placed in a new situation they do NOT act normally, and it can have nothing at all do with the rest of the families mood; the rest of the family can be carrying on their day like normal. I’ve had & known dogs that mope around the house for weeks when certain people are gone and go as far as not eating meals for a day or two if a certain person isn’t there to feed them. They’ll even stand around the area they last saw the person at every chance they get for a few days hoping they’ll come back.

    I’ve also met dogs that are very shy and any new person and/or animal, despite a lot of positive socialization since puppy-hood, they’ll not want to interact with. Then there’s dogs that haven’t been socialized with humans and/or animals much so you know for sure they aren’t interested in spending time with anyone they don’t know, for those kind of dogs I’m positive they would not feel comfortable at a kennel.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I take care of dogs with separation anxiety all the time. I just take them out for some fun like a walk or to play fetch. They may not forget about their owners, but they totally accept the situation and make the best of it. It makes a big difference how the owner’s attitude is while leaving, too. Dogs read us very, very well. If we are anxious or if we feel guilty, the dog acts accordingly.

  59. I just had to re-home my oldest dog of 5 years because of aggression that started a month ago with his son who will be 2 in feb. I had them seperated for the last month in crates and it killed me to do so. It got to the point where they couldn’t even be in the crates in the same room without being vicious. My problem i’m having not only missing him badly, i think he is thinking why did i give him away? When is she coming back?…And it’s making me extremely sad….I know I did the right thing as i also have 2 females whom he was starting to take his anger out on because he could not get to his son who was in a crate. She said that i can visit him whenever I want, but i think he is going to think he’s leaving with me and i’m taking him home. I can’t do that to him or myself. I would talk to him and i swear he knew every word I said to him….:(

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Dogs have the ability to move on faster than we do. With time, your old dog will take to his new home just fine. You did the right thing by finding him a new loving home. He will be happy there. If you ever go visit him, he will be thrilled to see you. You can help him by not making too much of a big deal when you see him and also not making a big deal out of leaving again. If you choose not to see him again, that is OK too.

  60. I have a 4 year old bichon/boston terrier cross that I am considering giving up. It is eating me up inside because she is so attached to me. She has developed some bad habits mainly concerning our cats, but a few other things also. I put out a notice on craigslist and have gotten several promising responses. But, I don’t see how she wouldn’t miss me. I’ve had her since a puppy and she is totally focused on me, not my husband. You say they move on and don’t dwell on the past, but I don’t think I could stand thinking that she might not be happy. It seems like it would be easier to handle a dog dying than to give them away.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      You know what is best for you and what is best for the dog. I’m sorry you have to make such a difficult choice. I hope you can find another dog to love.

      Your bichon cross will probably wonder where you are for a few days and then adjust to her new home just fine. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t love you. Dogs just have the ability to move on easier than humans do. It’s not good or bad, just different.

      By giving your dog a new, loving home, you are doing a selfless thing.

  61. Hello! I’m new here and have enjoyed reading everyone’s comments! You’ve provided much insight and helped to calm some of my fears and emotions when it comes to my dog. My job may be changing to a position that could keep me away from my dog up to 5 nights in a row, several times a month, for the forseeable future. Would my dog be o.k. in a doggie daycare for extended periods of time like that or would the constant come and go be stressful? Thanks so much!

  62. We got a german shepherd pup a couple of months ago and i love her to pieces but im in a precidiment. We were thinking about giving her up because we feel like its unfair to make her stay in the kitchen when were out at work. Lee works 8 till 4 monday to friday and i work 25 hours a week but i can sometimes be in from 4 or sometimes the same as lee so some days she might not be alone for more than 2 hours but some days shes alone for maybe 8. I can take my hour break with her to break up her day. Now the person we were thinking of giving her up to works more so she would be on her own longer but she would be left outside all day instead. Which is best for her? This person doesnt believe that dogs should have toys or treats where as i do. Hes experienced with the breed and knows how to train them where as i do my best. What should i do because i know dogs are meant to be along sometimes?

  63. Oh also i really worry that if she goes then she will be fine during the day but would wonder where we are of a night time and i dont want that. Shes in a routine and i dont want to confuse her. We love her to pieces and shes adorable.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I am not sure what the problem is. Most people work at least 8 hours per day. Do you think someone who works shouldn’t have a dog?

      Don’t be so hard on yourself. Your dog is fine. She loves you and you love her. There is nothing wrong with re-homing a dog if that is right for you and the dog, but your dog has it good where she is. A fenced yard is simply a big kennel to a dog.

  64. My problem was that I want the best for her and if she has the option of sitting in a kitchen all day or being in the garden all day then which would be best for her? We love her to pieces but is that enough? I know she might not even notice we have gone if we do leave her with a new family but i worry that she might think that we abandoned her. We always take her for walks and let her in the garden but i still dont feel like she gets the exercise that she requires.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I don’t know which is better for her. Dogs can adapt to a new home easily. They move on quickly. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t love you and won’t think about you, but she will accept the new owners as her home very quickly. She won’t feel like you abandoned her.

      Just because she will have a yard to stay in does not mean that home would be better for her. Will this owner take her for walks? A yard is just a yard. Dogs need someone to walk them.

      From what you’ve said, it seems like she has a good home with you. But if you truly believe another home would be better for her, then you would be re-homing her out of love. I hope you will find another dog that fits your lifestyle better.

  65. Fides Marie David

    Hi Lindsay. My dog is lost.. when i got back home last friday night he was no longer in our house.. he always wants to go with me when he sees im about to leave but i cant because im studying. Now iam still looking for him.. but no lucks. been crying for 3days now.. iam too attached to him and i think he is too to me.. i think im going crazy thinking that he;s thinking about me and missing me alot right now. and finding his way back home?? I roamed the village 5x now asking people if they see him but no one did. Do you think he missess and thinks of me right now and his finding his way back home? This is so hard for me. Thank you so much

  66. Fides Marie David

    I found him this morning!! 🙂 I was really like OMGGGGG. After 3 days! I never thought I would still find him, but I was hoping. Prayers work. 🙂 Wooooottt!!

  67. hi there,

    I am in a dilemma, we got a staffie from a pup but i wasnt working then. I start work on Friday and will be working a 9 day fortnight,
    my daughter is at college and is spending more and more time away from home.
    we live right next to a big park and i am able to get over there at least once a day but is it really unfair to keep him cooped up for the rest of the day.
    as the dog is only 10 months would it be kinder to give him up now while he is young.
    i appreciate your comments , you seem to have made a lot of sense in your posts.
    many thanks

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Most dog owners have full-time jobs. I wouldn’t feel too bad for the dog. It would be great if you could let him out during lunch, but I know many dogs that stay home for eight or nine hours straight every day and they manage. Dogs easily adapt to our schedules.

      The question you should be asking is whether or not you truly want the dog. It sounds like you might want to give him up. If that is the case, then you should find him a home where he will be more appreciated.

  68. I’m so glad I stumbled upon your blog. I foster for a local rescue organization. I am struggling with letting this foster go. I have a couple interested in him and I know they can provide him the love and attention he deserves. But I’m afraid that he’ll think I don’t love him. I’m afraid he’s going to feel abandoned yet again. But now I know that he won’t. He’ll be happy if his owners are happy. And now my household can go back to the way it was, the way MY animals are used to, and then everyone will be happy. I’ll be sad to see the little guy go. I got attached to this one, more so than the others. But I’ll get over it. And I know I have a purpose in this life, and that purpose is to foster. I need to keep my home and my heart open for another animal in need. Your post helped me arrive at this decision. So, thanks.

  69. re: message sent 6th march
    thank you so much for your reply. it has put my mind at ease. i definitely don’t want to give him up, we have grown really attached to each other. i sometimes can get home in the middle of the day and have left him for two lots of 8 hours so far and he seems fine about it. no trouble or mess when i got back 🙂 i take him for a walk in the morning before i go and then a nice long run and play in the local park when i get back.

    thanks once again
    Susan

  70. Allan J Graham

    Dear Lindsay

    I have an 11 year old poodle, that I have spoiled and kept very close to. I speak to her just as I speak to a person, no shouting etc; she knows if she’s done something wrong. I just love her to bits and she has rewarded me with great affection and has often been my strength. I am 66 divorced (2 years) but still in friendly contact with my ex wife who also treated ‘Judi’ very well, though didn’t let her get away with or do the tings I let her do. Now I have ill health and must move away and I am distraught. My ex has said that she will take over the care of Judi until she passes on. I know she will look after her and play with her, but I also know she’ll be on her own longer, won’t get those belly rubs of even be allowed to creep up on the bed. I suppose, I’m asking if you think Judi will be OK, I know it’s stupid because my ex also lived with Judi for 8 years. Can you offer any advice for a situation that is inevitible and I do realise it’s not a bad solution, but I’m just concerned about Judi living out her twilight years happily.
    Thank you very much
    Allan

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I think Judi loves you and your ex and she will be happy living with either of you. I guess I can use my own dog as an example. I love him to pieces. He is my world. Yet, I don’t allow him on the furniture. I don’t let him sleep in my bed. Usually I don’t even allow him in my bedroom. We have a great relationship. I take him for long walks and give him all kinds of attention and affection each day. My dog is also on his own for at least four hours a day, sometimes six or seven while I am working without him. He does just fine. He is very loved. He is happy. He has a good life.

      So I guess my point is to just be happy for Judi. Be happy that she has somewhere to go where she will be loved and where you will still be able to check in and see how she is doing.

  71. Thank you so much for your reply Lindsay. Of course you are right and Judi will be perfectly fine with my ex, after all they’ve known each other for a long time. I suppose, I’m the one seeking reassurance, as I’m guessing this will be a final parting between Judi and I.
    I know my personal situation, how it will be dealt with and the likely outcome, but I just want the final years of my friend, who has never let me down, to be ‘happy’. I have made provision for all Judi’s needs, i.e. set up a little bank account which my ex can draw upon for vets bills etc. I know she will be loved, fed, played with and groomed……but I’ll miss her deeply……though she will always be in my heart. I’m so grateful for buying that scruffy little pup all those years ago.
    Thank you once again
    Allan

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I know you must be going through a difficult time, and I thank you for contributing to the discussion on my site. I am sorry you have to make such a hard choice. Thank you for loving that little dog. I know she has had such a wonderful life.

  72. I have a chihuahua and terrier I think it depends on how you treat your dogs (I guess). Because based on my experience everytime I reached home my dogs are always ecstatic. and also, this past few days my dog is always crying even though there’s a lot of us who take cares of them. I think because my dad is still in the hospital for almost 3 weeks now. My dad loves to play with him.

  73. I just adopted a beagle from the shelter about 3 weeks ago, and she was pretrified in there and at my home at first. She is having a really good time and and has already come out of her shell. We get along great, and she is going to be a good dog. The problem is, I had already planned a trip to Alaska in June. We are checking out pet hotels this weekend and will try to find one that has women, since she is scared of men. I am so afaid she will revert back to being in her shell and worry that I have abandonded her while I am gone. Will she remember me and my home after only living there 3 months? I had planned on waiting until I got back to get a dog, but the shelter needed a home for her, and I couldn’t wait until then.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      She will be OK. Find a dog boarding place you are comfortable with, one that will love her and spoil her. Try to think of it as a doggy vacation for her, too. She will be just fine. Don’t worry, and have a great trip. She will be thrilled to see you when you get back! You could also consider some sort of in-home pet sitting where the person takes one or two dogs in his or her home.

  74. I have two dogs emma a yorkie and eddie a maltese. Emma has always been “my” dog, meaning she is attatched to me the most, well long story short they are now like 5 or 6 years old and it is now time for me to move on. I am moving out in a few months to live with my fiance and though we agreed to getting a puppy to raise and love after settling in our new place I have been depressed, I love my dogs expecially emma, but I can’t take them with me. I know my mother will take care of them and shoe them love and care like always but I’m afraid emma will get severly depressed, I think animals do have some emotion imy mom mentions all the time how emma is always more quiet and mopes around depressed till I get home again, oliver my cat hasn’t been the same ever since we moved and my bros cat isn’t with us anymore. I dunno I’m happy to get a new dog we can love but god…I’m gonna be so sad leaving my emma and eddy 🙁 what should I do?

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I think your dogs will be OK with your mom. If it’s best for you and your fiance to get your own dog, then that is what you should do. Emma and Eddie will still be very excited to see you when you visit! They might mope around a bit, but the best thing your mom can do for them is to have a positive attitude. They read our energy so well and tend to copy what we offer them. So if your mom can take them for walks and other things they love to do, that should help.

  75. Hi there, I have a quick question for you: me and my husband recently returned after being away for one week and noticed our little cocker spaniel lost some weight and I know is not from exercising as he exercises a lot more with us (we take him on 1-2 hours walks every 1-2 days) and I know my friend did not , she would only take him out to do his business but not long walks…Also he was extremely happy to see us, honestly more then usual. We left him before but with my sister in law who I know took much more care of him and he never lost weight or was this exited to see us and his home ( it was the first time I saw him jump from the car and run to our door wagging his tail like nothing else). I need to leave him again in a couple of weeks again with my friend (as I have no other option for now) but I’m really worried now. Do you think he lost weight because he missed us so much this time and did not get as much attention and love like we usually give him? I know my friend is a dog lover but she doesn’t have a lot of free time or gives him as much love? Reading so much contradictory info I don’t know what to believe anymore. I used to be a believer that they don’t really have a sense of time or that they adapt to new situations….but now seeing him like this it makes me wonder…. Thanks

  76. I am so grateful to have stumbled upon this website. My daughter and her boyfriend moved out into their new house and took my favorite grand-doggy, Tank. It is now going on four weeks that he has left home. I care for my baby for four years…walked hime, played in the pool, hunted for lizards, cuddled him and of course he slept with myself and my husband. I know that the dog belongs to her and have tried to be strong. I miss him terribly….his love, companionship, loyalty, devotion and trust are characteristics I have not experience with any other being.
    I can visit him but it is not the same. He is not allowed to come to my house because I am told that he will acquire “bad habits.” Okay, I will suffer through it if I know that the key things he likes are taken care of. He loves to sleep in the bed. Now he not allowed to. When I bought a big round deep chair for him to cuddle him, I was reprimanded. I am heartbroken. My family is not tolerant. I try to hold my crying for late nights but the tears just pour out. I cannot even open my blinds since he left, because he was always looking out for me when I got home from work with howls of happiness.

    Thank you for allowing me to share. I know you will understand.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Although Tank will always love you, he is probably doing OK with your daughter and boyfriend. And is hard as it is to be apart from Tank, he is their dog. I am sorry for the hardship you are going through, though.

      Have you considered getting your own dog?

  77. Hello, I am so happy I stumbled on your website. I have to leave my 1 and a half year old bichon, Max, in a doggy hotel for 2 weeks in June and I’m so heart broken. We are so attached to each other. He is my shadow and follows me everywhere. I don’t work at the moment so him and I spend all day together. The longest I have left him was for 3 days and I left him with my parents who love him very much so I know he was fine but this time my whole family are going together on vacation and I have no other option than to leave him in a hotel. The hotel has webcams and I will be able to log in and watch him play and sleep.so it’s a little comforting but I also I have been freaking myself out a bit thinking I will see something bad on the cam and will be helpless. I know I need to relax but he is like a child to me since I have none. But anyway your words helped me feel better about the whole situation. Thanks

  78. Hello,

    I wanted to leave my dog for 2 months at my parents house. The only problem is I know for sure that she won’t get to go on walks, and her food and water won’t be changed regularly. I’m afraid she won’t like it and will get sick. I want to take her with me, but I would be working 7-8 hour shifts, and I will be traveling so she would be home a lot. She would still get walks, and good food and play time though. My parents also make me feel guilty about having her, they tell me that it isn’t my dog because they bought her (even though I am the one taking care of her, paying for vet bills, buying her dog food) I know I should not let it get to me, but how would you handle this situation?
    Also should I take her with me? or should I let her stay?

  79. Hi i’m maggie and i love dogs and i haven’t seen my dog in a very long time and i wonder does he miss me has he forgotten me? These scary thought’s frighten me! Bailey my dog has been gone for months and i try to forget but their is still a part of me that is gone and i need to regain it. But how? can i do this?

  80. I believe dogs to miss their owners terribly, I haven’t seen my dogs in over 2 months and since I left they have been disobedient, this has nothing to do with the owner they are with because they are disciplined just as much. When I was gone for just a few weeks last time I went on a trip my dog spent every day moping around the house, checking the windows and doors. She eventually became more active but the habit’s of checking for me never went away, then when I came home she was so happy to see me she wouldn’t leave my side and after that she even became fearful of when I would leave for an hour and would tear up the house because she was stressed out. I haven’t been able to shake her of it since. You may think that animals don’t miss their humans or care, but ultimately I do think it depends on the owner, I wouldn’t miss my owner if they didn’t really pay much attention to me or give me lots of affection. No to mention anyone can give love to a dog, doesn’t mean the dog will replace the human, only a human is that cruel and that I know of all too well.

  81. I might have to disagree about a dog being able to be mad. I got my German Shepherd cross when I was about 16 from the SPCA. She lived with myself and my family until I moved out at 18 and she came with me. Her and I were inseparable. We would go for runs in the morning and then huge walks in the afternoon. She was a very happy and well taken care of dog.
    I ended up going to Thailand a couple of years later and left her with my mom. My moms house was like her second home so there was no problem leaving her there. I was only supposed to be gone 3 months but ended up being gone 14 months. I knew there was no way she could forget me because I had spent so much time with her, but I did not expect the reaction I got.
    Normally when someone comes home she starts running around and jumping up a bit on who ever came back. She will grab her toys and bring them to the greeter or move them around the house. When I finally did return my mom, sister and I expected her to ballistic once we opened the door, because her and I really were best friends. But when we opened the door, she came running out, took one smell of me and walked back inside. She didn’t even greet my mom and sister. None of us knew what was going on, she had never reacted like to anyone, even people she didn’t know. I tried to go up to her and pet her and let her smell me again. I tried getting one of her toys and playing with her. She wasn’t having any of it and even growled at me a couple of times when I was petting her. My mom and sister thought it was quite comical because she was really acting like she was angry towards me.
    This went on for about a week until finally she gave in and started playing with me again and coming to me for affection. Our relationship is completely back to normal now, but I don’t know how to explain her reaction that one week other than anger. If you have any other suggestions as to why she did that I would love to hear it. It was just so strange.

  82. Thank you so much for this article! I was feeling so bad about myself for giving my 6 month old dog away to another family. After I had gave him away the family that adopted him emailed me with only good things about my dog and that he was happy. I felt so sas to actually hear he was happy! I thought as if maybe he didn’t like me or I was a bad owner 🙁 That wasn’t the case. He is with a big Family that gives him alot of attention! Thanks to your story I understand and move on :).

    Heather

  83. I think it really depends on the dog. Some dogs are more independent, while others are overly needy. I do believe dogs miss you, grow attached, and have a sense of time. If dogs didn’t have a sense of time, they wouldn’t grow bored. The longer I’m gone, the more excited my dog Buddy is to see me, even before I greet him. Sometimes I would ignore him when coming home to help ease his separation anxiety, but he would still go crazy when he sees me. Buddy is happiest when he sees me, then my boyfriend, then my roommates (who act way more excited to see him than my boyfriend does). He is pretty shy around strangers.

    Maybe I humanize my dogs too much at times, but I don’t think it’s true that dogs lack “human” emotions. Dogs were selectively bred by humans to have more “human” qualities, including a basic theory of mind. That’s why they are so good at sensing our emotions and inferring our intentions from our behaviors. Buddy definitely gets jealous when I pet other dogs, but not in a possessive “alpha-dog” way. He would run over to me, sometimes jump up and down, and look up at me as if he was saying “Pay attention to me! Love me!”

    Buddy also holds grudges. Whenever my roommates accidentally stepped on him (he is a small dog), he would refuse to come to them, let them pet him, or even look at them for about an hour or two. After that, it seems like he forgives them and all is back to normal. He does the same to me whenever I do something he doesn’t like, like when I first started brushing his teeth.

    I recently adopted another dog, Pete. Pete was extremely attached to his foster mom. He likes me, but he doesn’t seem to love me. He is not very affectionate with me and does not get too excited when I come home. I know he likes me enough because he’ll follow me around while he won’t even let most strangers touch him. When I brought him back to the place I got him just to visit, he got SO excited to see his foster mom. Pete acted towards her the way Buddy acts towards me after a long time apart. Even now, at my house, Pete would often just sit or lie there staring off and looking sad. He would be unresponsive when I pet him and show affection.

    Like in Harlow’s study with the baby rhesus monkeys, animals don’t become attached to you because you feed them. When I’m gone, Buddy refuses to eat. He doesn’t eat the treats I give him if he knows I’m about to leave. Pete gets VERY excited when I feed him, yet he does not seem to love me yet. How long will it take for Pete to become as attached to me as he did to his foster mom? Any responses or advice would be helpful!

  84. I just want to say a massive thank you for stopping my tears. Due to reasons i couldnt avoid i recently had to make the heart breaking decision to take my dog of 7 years to a shelter to be re-homed, ive cried ever since. I know i have done the right thing for everyone involved but i love my dog like i do my child and i miss him so so much! But i think the thing thats been stopping me from drying the tears is the fact that ive been telling myself that hes missing me, that he knows ive left him and that he thinks about me and his home and where his family is. I understand now that he doesnt think about these things at all and that he doesnt hate me for leaving him cos he probably hasnt even thought of me since the i left him. I love my dog and miss him very very much and now i can just learn to live with the hurt of missing him and not the added guilt that he misses me too.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Your dog doesn’t hold it against you. If you were to run into one another again, of course he would be happy to see you. But dogs have the amazing gift to accept life as is and move on. They are just different than us. I’m so sorry you had to give up your dog. I know it wasn’t easy.

  85. Hi! I have an 8 yr old pit bull Diamond and she has lived with me all her life with my mom and aunt. She has a backyard and plenty of room in the house. I am moving out into an apartment in a few months and am torn between taking her with me or leaving her with my mom (who is retired and home most of the time). I don’t know what would be harder on Diamond…Her staying home with my mom and not being with me or taking her with me to the apartment and her being by herself most of the time, only going outside on a leash for walks, rather than sunbathing in the back yard like she loves so much. Does anyone have any suggestions on this? Some people have told me that I’LL be the one upset emotionally and not her. The more I think about it I feel like it won’t be fair to her to take her out of her home, but I’m just in tears thinking about her being sad and missing me. Is that me just humanizing her? HELP!!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      She will be fine either way. Dogs adapt. Do what is best for you and your mom. If you base the decision entirely on Diamond, then yes, I think she would probably be happier in the environment she is used to. She will miss you to an extent, she just won’t pine over you like we humans tend to do. She will be happy when you visit.

      Is there any chance you might adopt another dog? Or perhaps a cat?

  86. Nicole, you have to do what you feel is best for you and your dog. No one else knows better than you. Just like people, dogs will move on. Will they be heartbroken, will they howl for you, definitely if they’re attached to you. I would not go along with some comments stating that the dog will be OK and will move on without missing you, eventually it might. No one knows, but is this what you want, ending the relationship? Some dogs are better than human and vice versa, what counts is your unique relationship. If I were you, and lived close to mom, i might drop her off some day during the day time so that she’s in not alone, but she is coming home with me. What matters is the love you have for each others.

    I have twins, they can never be separated. I’ve tried to take one for a walk without his brother, he would walk few steps and will turn and pull the leach forward to go back to his brother and gives him tons of kisses. A walk doesn’t mean anything to him with the pack. Dogs are emotional, please be gentle, there is no need to suffer, keep it with you.

    1. Thanks for y’alls comments! I’m starting to think that I really won’t have the option to bring her with me because everywhere I check they have breed restrictions and won’t accept pit bulls…even though she’s never been aggressive in her life! I’m defintely not going to take this lightly and in the end I know I’ll figure something out. Thanks!!

  87. I have a husky who is nearly 1 and I love him to death. I have always adored dogs and when my nan died in September me and my partner got my dog when he was just 8 weeks old. It wasn’t just a cheer me up thing I have always wanted a dog since my family dog died when I was 15 I am now 21. My boyfriend works nights and I am self employed 3 days a week. However me and my boyfriend are breaking up and I am moving out in September. I am prepared to still take full responsibility of my dog by walking him daily but I feel this isn’t enough for him as he will only spending an hour with me and will be lonely. I have decided to give my dog to a friend of a friend who’s dog passed away 4 month ago, I met him today and introduced my dog. He’s a very nice man he’s retired and has all the time in the world for him. I feel sick when I think about giving my dog away he means the world to me and I want to cry whenever I look at him. The man said we can visit him anytime we like. I just want what’s best for my dog. Am I doing the right thing and will he be okay? Thanks

  88. Also the reason I cannot bring him With me is he is very energetic and malts alot my mum won’t let him live with us which I understand and if I leave him at the house to live with my boyfriend soon to be x partner I feel he wont walk him as he is tired from work and not to mention it would b awkward to go his house every day if I turn up and he has a new girlfriend there or something. My boyfriend leaves for work at half 8 at night till 6:30 am goes sleep at like 8 n wakes up at like 4 or even 5

    1. Dogs know who you are and how long you have been gone on a trip. This is a fact, that dogs are highly intelligent and have memory not just instincts. You have to be spiritual to understand that not only does your dog love you but they are highly social animals, they do not just sit around day dreaming, take a police dog or seeing eye dog, and hunting dogs as well to see there keen since of smell and organizational skills. There is way more there than what the person who wrote the above article has said. The relationship with your dog is real and the dog knows this as well. If you are not in touch with your spirituality, it may be more difficult to understand the bond between you and your dog.

  89. Good evening,

    I wanted to comment because my dog is very different. I raised him for about a month when he was a puppy and then had to take him to my parents’ house. I would see him only for a couple days at a time over the next two years, but everytime he greeted me with the same energy that he did not show for others. Finally , I was able to bring him home. My husband and I take turns walking him, and he has been home for about a month. He stays home all day while we work and we have not had any issues. Loki is an extremely well-trained house dog. Well, I left on Monday, and my husband took over walking and feeding the dog all by himself, on day two Loki peed on our bed. He has never even so much as peed in the house before. Finally, I came home and Loki wouldn’t listen to me if I told him to go lay down, he is following me everywhere. When I started to go back outside he nipped at my clothes which is also not like him at all. I’m definitely not into projecting juman emotions to a dog, but this is strange behavior. Can you tell me why he would act out so different even though he still had someone to play with him and walk him? And someone who he sees everyday…

  90. Thank you so much for adding your helpful words. I just got married and had to leave my adorable marshmellow with a very sweet family for 2 days- just as i got used to him being gone and stoppped crying, it was time for him to come home. Now, we are leaving on our honeymoon(it is 5 days after our actual wedding) and we will be gone for 2 weeks. My husbands mom is watching him and I trust them so much and they have an american Bulldog which marshie is so good with and vice versa but I am so worried and sad about saying good bye. I’ve been crying for days, and I should be the happiest girl alive.

    I married my best friend of 7 1/2 years and the wedding was so perfect but I had such anxiety of leaving my little pup. Until, your I found your article. I know dogs have no concept of time, but that only helps so much bc I feel he really does love us. I always wanted a dog and now that i have one- it hard to say bye for 2 more weeks.

    As, i go on vacation I will remember your blog and what you said- they are just happy when someone plays with them and gives them attention and he will just be glad to see us when we return home. I really want to go on my Honeymoon with all happy and wonderful intentions. We need this time together so badly and deserve it.

    Marshmellow will get so much love and attention while we are away. I don’t doubt this at all. Thank you for your insite and help.

    -T

  91. Teresa – I’m in the same boat as you – we are leaving for France next week and will be gone for two weeks. My rescue pup of almost 3 years is my running buddy, cuddle buddy, and best friend. We usually take 2 week vacations once a year, but usually family will watch her – which is not possible this time. She is going to her doggy daycare, which she goes to at least once a week since we’ve had her, but this will be the first extended stay. I know she is in good hands, but it’s hard to drop her off and say goodbye – just hoping for the best and that there is no major problems or emergencies. I think I’m going print a copy of this article off so I can re-read it just in case I get melancholy! (I’ve asked my out-of-state parents to call and check-up on one-time each week…I am the one with the separation anxiety!) Anyway – thank you for the article – I needed some logical reassurance! And Congrats Teresa!

    1. Dogs do miss you,, to say they do not is a myth, i have a small dog that will become socially withdrawn from the rest of my family when i am gone for three or four days. My wife told me he sits at the window facing the driveway for up to 8hrs a day , just waiting for me. Because when i am around he plays with everyone and is very social, but when i am gone for more than a day he mopes around with his tail tucked, he will not eat much and wants to be left alone at the window. to top it off, when i call home and my wife puts the phone up to his ear, my dog will howl and make small noises as if he is trying to speak to me, after that he eat and go to sleep.

  92. It could be that the dog was just so used to the routine of going to the train station every day that he continued to go. People probably also fed and pet him while he was there.

    Another popular loyal dog story, Greyfriars Bobby, has been pretty well explained as a hoax by a local restaurant owner in order to increase tourism and business.

    Even if these stories are 100% true in the way they have been traditionally told, they’re rare exceptions to canine behavior. Dogs are re-homed all the time after their owner’s deaths and move on just fine.

    It’s actually a bit sad how many people were angry in the comment section about the article explaining how Greyfriars Bobby most likely was a hoax.

    But who would want to believe their cherished pet is going to be miserable the rest of its life when they die and never move on? Apparently that makes people feel good for some reason. This belief also would insinuate that if a dog doesn’t suffer from depression the rest of its life when its owner dies, then it’s a bad or unloving dog.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Yes, good points. I know if something happened to me, my dog would (I like to think) feel sad, but I also know he would move on.

  93. I have a 5 yr old wonderful Golden Retriever named Casey,that we have to give up becuase of my husbands allergies. We have had him since he was 10 weeks old. I was lucky to find the family he is going to through my cousin. They are so happy to be having him as part of there family. But I am having a horribe time dealing with this. I feel like I’m giving up one of my children and can’t stop crying. I feel so bad, like we are abandoning him. I don’t want him to be sad and wonder where we are, when are we coming back for him 🙁 We can visit him whenever we like but I’m afraid it will confuse him and KILL me even more!!!! Any suggestions??? I am putting together a scrap book for the new owners so they can see how he grew up…happy and loved 🙂

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Oh, I’m so sorry to hear you had to give up your dog. I’m sure the new owners can tell how much he was and still is loved. Are you also going to make a scrapbook for yourself?

  94. I am in my mid fifties and just a year ago got my first rescue dog. I have never had a dog before and I so love my little Molly. Molly was running down a highway when someone at the animal shelter found her. She is a Yorkie mix. This has been a learning experience-my husband says that I am a “mother fusser”. I love reading these other comments and seeing how much other people love their pets! It warms my heart. I also have noticed that some of the people leaving a comment have forgotten about basic punctuation. Wow.

  95. This is great for you & your pooch. But I don’t believe it’s the same for every dog. Dogs *do* have strong bonds with their owners/masters (whatever we want to call ourselves), and I would venture to say there are a lot of people who would report the opposite, even when the dog is properly cared for while we’re gone. It’s not just about food and petting. My dog cries and looks for me like no one else when I leave, versus any of the other 4 people in my family. Would he adjust? Probably, sure. But the transitions are real. He missed his foster family when he came here … fed him the same food, gave him lots of exercise and things to do, he didn’t eat much for almost 5 days. It’s been over a week and he’s adjusting really nicely and seems happy, but he definitely missed them, and if he saw them, would greet them differently than strangers. I do appreciate reading some of your other posts, but I think to dismiss the human-canine attachment is missing a real understanding of these animals. Hatchi’s family had foot, love and petting, yet he returned because he expected his ‘master’ to return. Is this an unusual display of loyalty? Perhaps. Is it correct to dismiss the amount of stress when a dog’s owner passes away or moves, or has to give them away? I don’t think so. Not from everything I have read and seen in the past 20-30 years. The animal may not suffer from depression for the rest of it’s life, but sometimes it lasts for days, weeks or even a few months. Does that mean that we shouldn’t go away or travel without our dogs? Not at all! In fact, the more we come & go, the more secure they become in knowing that we will return. But to say that they don’t miss our absence, is not at all correct, IMO. Now – does a dog hold grudges? That is, conversely, a completely human characteristic. And I do believe people make the separation anxiety (this is a real problem with a lot of dogs for a variety of reasons) worse by making a big deal of coming and going… But again – every dog is different. We shouldn’t generalize any more than we should generalize about people. 🙂

  96. I have seen my dog react to things that had nothing to do with emotions from me, when I have gone out w/ my dog and my wife has been out when we left I’ve come back and her car is there (she is back and I knew she would be but had no emotion about it).

    And I’ve seen my dog acting totally normal many times until he spots her car and gets very excited at the sight of it.

    And runs to the house which he usually just walks slowly with me.

    I believe they do get excited to see people and do somewhat miss them w/ out it being our emotions.

  97. We just got back from vacation we have 2 fur boys Jake and Louie they are both Angel Dolls ( yourky hybrid ). They were boarded for 6 days. They were both very happy to see us but we went to bed early that night, yes ,they sleep with us. Louie would not get up the next morning,when he did get up he wouldn’t eat or drink anything . Jake was tired but not like Louie we seriously were thinking of taking him to the vet to make sure he was OK. He finally started acting normal about 6:00 PM last night. Then Jake who in normally the laid back one decided to tinkle on the bed last night. He has never done that ,they have potty pads in the laundry room for that. So my husband and I have decided we will only go to pet friendly condo and hotel rooms. They are both create trained so I would rather leave them in their create for a few hours while we’re at the beach or dinner then to put them and us thru this again. I am still drying my bedding from last night.

  98. I’m writing from the opposite perspective. I’m not a dog-owner, but I take in my friend’s dog whenever she is away, so I can tell you first-hand my experience of him staying with me. Either 2 days or 2 weeks.

    Firstly, I should say, under normal circumstances, he sees me visit her house for about 3 hours, 1 evening every 1-2 weeks, and he knows I always bring him a couple of treats – so he bounces like Tigger when I arrive to visit, and is all over me for the whole 3 hours. I could say he knows me well, but then, I realise it may be because I always have treats.

    When he comes to stay at my house, his behaviour is no different from how my friend says he usually is with her. On occasion, he may get a little bit bored – he’s more used to a houseful, including kids to play with, whereas I’m on my own. But he gets more walkies out with me, plus he gets to meet my friends – new people to play with, and new interests, and new places to investigate, so he’s not TOO bored.

    He’s certainly ecstatic when he sees his real Mum come back to collect him, but I’d say he doesn’t show any signs of missing her or fretting while he’s with me. He doesn’t sit looking at door/window waiting for her, ever. And I can vouch that he’s the same whether it’s 2 days or 2 weeks. (He’s curled up sleeping behind my back on sofa at the moment, having his doggy dreams)

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      That’s what I have seen from about 350 dogs that I care for. It doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t miss their owners, but they make the best of the situation. Sounds like the go you care for enjoys his time with you.

  99. my dog is really unfriendly tO strangers when they come to my house how do i make my dog calm andnot so aggressive?

  100. My dog whines when I leave him with family when we go on vacation. I would take him with us but my husband, unfortunately, is against it. I consider him a part of the family and it breaks my heart, and my kids’ hearts to leave him. He is so happy to see us when we get back.

  101. My husband and I got a miniature poodle and he is 9 months old. He is absolutely our best friend and we love him dearly. We are going on a vacation with my family for 3 weeks. My friends and family make fun of me because I have separation anxiety when we leave our poodle with my in-laws. They are great people and take wonderful care of him. They do not walk with him or play with him as much as we do, but they do what they can. Is there any advice on how to deal with my separation anxiety from my poodle? My in-laws said that it would help my poodle if they put the phone to my poodles ear while I talk into it so my poodle can hear me. Is that a good idea?

    Thank you for this article. The advice is VERY reassuring and helpful.

  102. Your dog must be one of those below average dogs. When I go on vacation and my dog goes to her grandmothers (who has other dogs) she gets depressed and mopes while we are gone. She goes about her routine but she is noticeably depressed. She recieves the usual amount of attention / food / treats so she is clearly depressed. She is an above average in terms of intelligence and is somewhat “eccentric” in her behaviours so I can understand her reactions, but she certainly does miss her “pack” and she does understand how long we’ve been gone.

  103. Like people all dogs are different. Every situation is differently. On this subject I guess we will have to agree to disagree. Dogs do miss and look for their people apand some are mopey when they are gone.

  104. It is good to think your dogs will miss you. Mine act like i have been gone years when i come home no matter if its been minutes or hours they are all squiggly and jumping on me. One we owned from a baby the other was a rescue dog that was returned three times before we got him, i cant believe anyone didnt want him he is perfect. The baby dog loves me she tries to bite me all the time when i come home but switchs to licks after a bit. Oh she never bites hard. Its just our play.

  105. Look I do not care what some of these other turkey say because I am going though a break up and had to leave behind my beautiful boy, after reading this it made me feel better about the situation

  106. Thank you for this. I am heart broken that I have to rehome my boxer. My daughter and I love him so much, but my fiancé doesn’t and we have ended our engagement because he said he can’t live with a big dog in his small town home. The rescue group has found a nice owner that has adopted two other boxers from them. Right now Duke doesn’t see me much on the weekends my daughter stats with her dad and I feel terrible. I’m in and out and I know he needs more than that. My fiancé and I are back together now and really the only way we can move forward is to find a new home for Duke. I guess what I’m asking is, will Duke be okay and will my daughter be scarred forever because I made this choice for us? I want to be married and I want my daughter to be happy too. He’s not opposed to getting her a little dog, which makes me sad too. Am I a bad dog owner. I feel awful. We’ve had Duke for 3 of the 4 years that we’ve been together and the dog has always been an issue. Please help.

  107. I think you are mistaken. My dog most certainly misses me and I feel terrible about it. I recently separated. I left my ex at the house we previously shared with both our dogs. When I came home today he cried like he was hurt physically. It was awful. I can tell he is depressed. There is nothing I can do at the moment. I have let him down and I hate it.

  108. I have a daughter who has recently got married and she has a odd that has always lived with us bf does not like her dog bc he is so protective over her so she moved out recently and left the dog here at my home , does the god know she is gone will he be ok will he get over it , he walks to her room and sees nothing is left but all his play toys in her room and walks out ….please help me

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I think the dog will be OK. Dogs are really good at adapting if we let them. You can help him by sticking to a regular routine that includes walks and some training, things he will enjoy but will also help calm him.

  109. i’m glad i found this article; i am about to leave soon for two weeks and i too am concerned about my dog; i left before but not for so long; when i called home to ask how she was, my familly told me that she was ok, not sad, with healty appetite and playful; i hope this will happen again;
    thanks again for this article

  110. Hmm I don’t know about that. When I was a kid and my older brother was in college, our dog would absolutely flip out crying and barking, and even accidentally pissing on the floor when he would return after being gone for months.
    You can see the same kind of dramatic behavior with pets reunited with owners after military service.
    There definitely seems to be a marked difference in their behavior after a long period of absence. I would definitely love to see some scientific research that tests this and quantifies it.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I tend to think it’s how the human reacts and the dog responds to that emotion, but that is only my opinion. Of course, dogs do miss their people on some level. I’m oversimplifying it to say they don’t miss us at all.

      That would be interesting to see some research. I know my parents’ dog (who is generally overly emotional/excited) goes nuts when she sees me once a year – jumping, crying, squealing. I love that she gets so “happy” so I know subconsciously or consciously I’m encouraging it in some way.

  111. Dogs don’t forget. I have a wolf and a black lab and I was gone for a year. When I came back they came charging at me. My lab was cry howling and putting his head between my legs whimpering and my wolf was prancing around and jumping on me.
    Yeah, they don’t forget

  112. My boyfriend and I have a dog together which we’ve had since he was 4 weeks old and he is now a year old. I’m growing increasingly concerned as our relationship deteriorates how my dog will react once he’s no longer going to be seeing his “dad” anymore. In the event of us breaking up I would be moving to another state and the chance they’d see each other again is unlikely. What should I do? Will he be okay?

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Your dog may be a bit sad for a few days, especially if you are sad. But dogs adapt really well to new situations. If you can get into a comfortable routine again once you move, it will likely help your dog move on with you.

  113. Some of the things you wrote are acceptable, but most of them are just untrue.
    A dog is faithful to his owner and will miss him. The only reason a dog wouldn’t act like that is because he doesn’t see you as a “partner” or is a dog that doesn’t value partnership in general. As an example I can tell you what happened in my case.
    We have a family dog, a Maltese.
    My mom and I always fought about who Chili (her name) likes most but recently it was too obvious about who she sees as her partner. When my parents went on a trip, Chili barked a few times to make them notice her and that was that. She then stay around me no matter where I went.
    But, when I was gone, things were a bit different. She kept going on the floor where my room is located and stayed in front the door to my room. She remained there for hours every day.

    Also, there were various occasions when I got home and wasn’t really in good mood to salute my dog in an energetic way or in a way with which I would show any kind of happiness. But every time I open the front door, she comes out and starts running around me like mad, barking and squealing out of happiness of seeing me again. I remember that once, when she was still young, she got so happy that she started peeing. She just couldn’t hold it in.
    Another good example was that recent video of a dog that fainted of all the happiness when her partner came back after (i think) 3 years of studying in another country.

    Based on my experience I can say that dogs (and at least a few more animals) have feelings, but same as humans, they have preferences as well. They won’t like everyone and won’t miss everyone in the same way.

  114. Thank you for this post! My husband and me are leaving for our honeymoon tomorrow and it’s the first time we’ll leave our dog at a dogsitter she’s not familiar with (we usually leave her with my dad, whom she knows and loves) and there will be other dogs there, too. I was super anxious and worried that she will think we abandoned her… Your post made me feel much better 🙂

  115. You are wrong, they have videos of Dogs to haven’t seen each other and they run and cry and carry on. Wolves do this too when they’ve been apart from each other. Lots of videos of Veterans who come home after Months to Years and they will sneak in and surprise the dog and they go nuts crying and running in a celebration that they are home again. It’s pure love. Also, for one example president Franklin Roosevelt had a dog named Fala he was a Scottish Terrier and they were inseparable, when FDR died that dog wouldn’t eat or drink he wanted to be near the President’s bed or his desk. He did eat and drink and lived with Eleanor Roosevelt until 1952 he was 12 and is the only Presidential Pet who has a Statuary right next to his master’s (FDR’s Statue). New studies of blood levels of “love” hormones have been done and they are finding that indeed animals have feelings. Ever hear of an animal not eating though they have no health problems? It is depression and it can end up killing them. Just because they don’t have the speech that we humans use or the muscles in their faces that show expressions does NOT mean that they have no feelings of love or affection or caring. That’s foolish with all we know these days.

  116. I just got a German Shepherd 7 weeks ago. He is 17 weeks old. I have an opportunity to have him go to boarding and training school for 3 weeks. My concern is that he will forget me because I haven’t had him for that long and he’s young. Any thoughts, suggestion, etc? Do you think he’s too young for this boarding school? Do you think he will forget us?

  117. Hello, my sister wanted a dog for her four daughters, they are ten years of age and below, so I bought a German Shepherd, she was two months old, after three months being with us, I decided to give her away because I didn’t like the way how my sister would treat her. It has passed one day, and I miss her so much, every time I think of her, I start crying. I don’t know what to do.

  118. My parents got a black lab puppy in January, and I was lucky enough to come visit when they brought her home at 7 weeks (I’m an adult who dosent live with them, but our view is I’m her “big sister” and she’s my dog too). We spent a few days together, sometimes alone, and then I had to go back to my place. I’ve visited twice since then, same duration and me taking care of her alone sometimes, about to visit a third, about once a month, and every time I see her she goes a bit more nuts for me. Last time I was there (she was 4 months at that point), and she peed when she saw me, whimpered, the whole nine, just like your article says. However, Tikka, even for a puppy, is usually a chill little dog. Dosent care when the phone rings, doorbell, thunder, etc, and calmly greets visitors. Meanwhile she looses it when she sees me. Even when I would calmly come out of my room in the morning and she’d be chilled out on the floor, she’d see me and ambush me. One day she was waiting for me and pounced on me when I opened my bedroom door. When I left she laid down in front of the front door and gave us the whale eye, and had to be moved so I could leave, and my mom said she then sat at the front window and cried till my mom comforted her. She also lost her mind when she heard me on speakerphone the other day, barking her face off when she’s usually quite quiet. I know she’s happy and healthy and loved with my parents and I keep telling myself she dosent miss me when I’m gone, but I can’t help but interpreting these signs that she misses me terribly, despite your informative article. Do I have it all wrong?

  119. Hi! I love this article.
    I just got a eight week old toy poodle last Monday. Baxter and I are so attached and since he was so young when I got home he didn’t fully get to learn all his social and behavioral issues from his mom. But I believe that to him I am his mom now. I only had him a week until I had to leave town last minute for work for a week so he is staying with my boyfriend and my boyfriend is taking care of him while I am gone. I had two trips planned which allowed me to come home after just two and half days for a few hours until my next flight. I was really nervous when I got back he wouldn’t be attached to me anymore and would like my boyfriend more. When I went home for the few hours he was so excited to see me but it didn’t last that long. He started crying for my boyfriend to hold him and play with him etc. I got really upset. Does he like my boyfriend more since I left him? I have only had him a week and then my boyfriend will have been watching him a week so is he confused who is his owner? I just left this morning for my next trip and will be home in a couple days, but I am nervous and sad if he does the same thing he did after my other short trip. This trip is a little longer so does he hate me for leaving again?:( and does he know I’m mommy? Or does he want my boyfriend to be his owner now?

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      It will be just fine. He will learn to love you both if you both take care of him from time to time. Enjoy your trips. He will continue to bond with you when you get back. Congrats on your new puppy!

  120. MY SWEET GIDGET WAS JUST STOLEN ON 5/28/16 AND MY MIND IS GOING NUTS WITH HORRIBLE THOUGHTS OF HOW SHE MIGHT BE BEING TREATED….NOW I’M WONDERING IF SHE IS ADAPTING TO THIS HOME THAT SHE MIGHT BE IN OR IS SHE WONDERING AND DEPRESSED ABOUT WHERE I AM AND WHY SHE IS NOT HOME..

  121. Lindsay,

    So, I usually don’t write comments on these types of things, but I’m feeling a little desperate for some reassurance.

    I had my boy, Cooper, since he was a tiny pup (8 or 12 weeks old, not sure). He’s now 3. I recently decided to re-home him. I feel very guilty and am still very heartbroken over this whole situation. I graduated college and accepted a job that requires me to travel 80% of the year. When I travel, I work 13 hour shifts, 7 days a week, and stay in hotels. I tried bringing Cooper along for the ride one time. I hired a dog walker and did everything I could to try and tire him out before my shift. He ended up being so stressed out that he was ill with blood in his stool when we would go outside.

    I decided that he deserves a more stable environment where he isn’t as lonely. I loved this dog more than anything and it was, and still is, the hardest decision I’ve ever made in my life.

    I found a great home for him, a couple that I really trust is giving him the love and attention that I did.

    In summary, I have two stupid questions:

    1. Do you think I was wrong to choose my job over my dog?

    2. Do you think he’s upset, sad, heartbroken, depressed, or anything of that sort because I’m not with him anymore?

    Thank you for your time and your advice. This article really helped me cope with this.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Hi Molly. I’m so sorry you had to make this difficult choice but it sounds like you made the right one. I’m glad you found your dog a loving family and it sounds like they are a better match. In general, dogs are very capable of adapting to new homes which is why so many dogs are successfully adopted every day. Sure, you and your dog had a very special bond but that doesn’t prevent him from bonding with a new family. Not that this makes it any easier for you. I’m sure it’s been very difficult.

  122. I believe my dog missed me (us) after a one week vaca. He follows me everywhere and won’t stay outside for a long time if I come in like he used too. I feel he thinks I’ll leave him again.

  123. I became separated from my Italian Greyhound. It’s been 11 days. I had him for 10 years. Does he sit around thinking about me, missing me, feeling sad, and abandoned? He is living with another lady who has 2 other Italian Greyhounds. She said on the phone that he is doing awesome and playing with the other dogs. But, what about when he is NOT playing or getting attention from the lady? Is he thinking about me, then?

  124. I feel like I can’t cope and it’s damaging my relationship with my family.
    I had a little pug who my children & I adored. He was our first pet & was quickly part of the family. We got him when he was only a few months old and had him for about two years.
    My husband had to take a job abroad in a developing country. We had no choice but to join him. We didn’t want to take our dog with us yet as we heard terrible horror stories regarding the safety of animals in middle eastern countries.
    The responsible thing to do was to leave him with a friend. I told this friend I would even pay her & she said no!
    I obviously left all his documents with her & have updated the vet on our situation but he’s still registered to me as the owner.
    He was 100% housebroken & an amazingly loving creature. She doesn’t believe in setting boundaries for animals (free spirit etc) and was telling me of his messing in the house & chewing furniture etc.
    I told her that he’s testing your boundaries & you must enforce our rules (if you wanna call it that) for her sake & his! She didn’t listen & kept having some problems. I kept offering to pay & give her money but she said no. I originally left her a few hundred pounds and also forced her to accept a bank transfer from me. Anyway a few months passed and I sent him a xmas card & she started hinting they want to keep him. I told her that it seems he’ll be fine with us in this new country & it’s our plan to collect him when we can. There are no dog parks here & it’s hot BUT it’s a dry heat (not humid at all) and only very hot in the day in June/July/August. I told her I couldn’t just go to the uk to collect him as the kids have school and I have to figure out what he needs to get done etc in order to come here (he has an EU passport but that’s not accepted here as it’s not the EU) she tried to convince me I’m being selfish etc. that her kids, dog, cats & rabbits have all bonded with him & I should give him up. In short the answer was no! I told her I think it’s best I just take the kids out of school & come to the uk to get him.
    She was lovely and understanding & said not to worry, she’d happily hold onto him until our situation is ready! Stupid me believed her!
    2 months or so later I told her we’ll be passing through the uk for a few days for a family wedding in Spain & I wanted to visit them all etc
    (I wanted to asses his happiness & their attachment) (in truth I was open to the possibility if we felt it was the right thing to do upon assessment) (we could always visit etc when we’re there). We booked a crappy hotel 5 mins from her house just so we could be closer to them (rather than staying at my mums 20 mins away) she told me she was very sick & then only replied to my messages after we’d left for Spain (the wedding) I was upset but gave her the benefit of the doubt.
    I told her that in the summer my kids & I will be in the uk for a few months.
    We want to see him & chat and also catch up as “friends” our kids were also friends & I thought she was a real friend and I missed her. I txt her a week after we arrived. No reply. I waited to see if she’ll reply but didn’t. She had blocked me on fb, changed her number and email address!!!
    I plucked up the courage & went to her house 3 weeks later. I heard her talking to her new bf so I knew she was home!
    I rang the bell, no answer! Rang & waited 2-3 mins about 5 times, no answer! I broke down I started talking to her through the window. My dog heard me & was barking excitedly (I know his barks lol) no response from her! So I stood there balling whilst continuously ringing the bell & saying I know she’s home etc & im not leaving!
    (I had left my kids with mum & went when hers were at school) she flung the door open screaming vulgarities at me in her nightdress!) Wouldn’t allow me inside or to even view my dog through the locked glass porch door dividing us! I literally got on my knees & begged. She said no! She explained her illnesses & life events right now & I explained mine. She tried to insinuate that I even threatened to sell my dog!! WTF??? WHAT?! NEVER!
    The police etc is on my side but I’m back in the other country now & have no one to take him. She said she’ll give him to me for 6.5k (another long story) (basically boarding costs etc). My husband thinks it’s best for the dog to stay with her. She is an animal lover & he would be treated well. Here he won’t have the same kind of park life etc! I tried to let go! It’s been a year & im literally crying even writing this & cry EVERY SINGLE NIGHT since “the ordeal” in the summer! My heart physically hurts at all this and I don’t know what to do! If I knew that was the last time I would’ve seen him we would’ve said goodbye properly! My soul hurts at this injustice! Do you think he thinks of us too? Does he think we don’t love him & miss him? This is SO hard! I can’t seem to get past it all!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *