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Do dogs miss us when we travel without them?

This may be an unpopular answer, but I don’t think dogs miss us a whole lot when we’re not home.

My dog is rarely home alone during the average day. When he is, he just sleeps.

I don’t believe he thinks much about me at all. I don’t believe he sits and pines over me or wonders “When is she coming back?” Or, “What am I going to do?”

He knows I’m coming back, and that is the routine. Like me, my dog finds comfort in routine.

But when the routine is different, my dog does seem to feel anxious.

Packing for a trip … loading the car …

And sometimes (usually), he whines in these situations because, I assume, he doesn’t know if he gets to go along. He doesn’t know what the routine is.

What about when we leave our pets with a sitter or at a boarding kennel?

My dog Ace the Lab mix

I’ve worked in the pet boarding/pet sitting/dog walking industry since 1999, and I have not seen much evidence of dogs missing their owners. (This doesn’t mean they don’t miss their owners. They just don’t show it.)

Most dogs adapt within a few hours, especially if they’re put on a routine – walking at this time, eating at this time – and given calm affection and rules.

I’ve had the opportunity to see this from many angles – dogs getting dropped off at a large boarding kennel where I worked, dogs getting dropped off at my house and owners leaving their dogs at their own homes for me (the pet sitter) to visit.

Routine and calm consistency are key in all these situations.

Still, just because a dog accepts the current situation and is having a great time playing with other dogs or even just lunging around in a kennel, it doesn’t mean he’s not thinking about his owners. It doesn’t mean he does not miss his owners.

Why wouldn’t he be thinking about them? And missing them?

Don’t we miss our homes and routines when we go on vacation, even while having a great time? I do.

But, my point of view as a petcare provider is that dogs usually don’t fret about us too much, especially if the pet sitter gives them treats or if the boarding kennel has a cute cocker spaniel to play with.

Sure, our dogs might miss us a bit while we’re gone. We like to think they do, at least, but we often beat ourselves up too much about leaving in the first place. This isn’t necessary.

Find a great kennel. Find a great pet sitter. Your dog will be OK.

What do the rest of you think?

Does your dog seem to miss you when you travel?

*Photo of Ace by Tawna.

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Wednesday 25th of September 2019

I’ve boarded dogs and definitely seen evidence of owners being missed, but usually just the first time. After they realize that they haven’t been rehoused, they don’t seem stressed or like they miss their owner much.


Monday 8th of September 2014

I think some people confuse separation anxiety with "missing" their owners. Separation anxiety is harmful and is less about the dog "missing" an owner and more about the dog's state of distress and anxiety.

I like your comparison to how people travel. When I travel I have a blast, and while I certainly have moments where I miss home, I'm usually happy because I know I'll return home eventually, so why worry? The same could be true for dogs - they don't need to miss you because they are having fun and living in the moment while knowing that you'll return to them eventually. And of course if there's one thing we know about dogs it's that they LOVE having fun and seizing the day!


Tuesday 26th of August 2014

Well, I don't travel. LOL. Not without my dogs, anyway.

When we were pet sitting Jasmine's best buddy had his house mate, he seemed to have missed his mom a little bit at certain times of the day. The house mate was just happy to Ben on a sleep-over. I thin Tasha s long as they're having fun, they don't really have time to think about such things.


Friday 22nd of August 2014

I couldn't agree more! I really think that dogs love and need routine! I have a black Lab (almost 3 years old) and last year I left him with a pet sitter for a week and I'm totally sure that I missed him so much more than he could possibly miss me!

Rachel @ My Two Pitties

Tuesday 19th of August 2014

Good question! Kaya & Norman give me the same greeting if I'm gone for an hour or a week so it's hard to say. Luckily they love everyone so I think they have a blast when others are watching them. I've always had pet sitters stay at the house. I like the idea of them staying in their environment, even if there are other changes going on. But I prefer not to go on trips without them!