Research Says Dogs Miss Us When We’re Away

My Australian Shepherd greets me at the door when I come home from shopping and he acts like he hasn’t seen me in weeks. It never ceases to amaze me how much love and affection he shows after being separated for just a few hours. Dogs are pets that have a huge capacity for love, in most cases. It’s been confirmed by researchers at Canine Science Collaboratory at Arizona State University, who set out to learn more about canine attachment to their human family members.

Research says dogs miss us when we’re away

Behavioral scientists experimented with ASU to find out if dogs show excitement when they see their owners because they expect to get a treat, or if it’s because they miss our company when we’re away. The study involved keeping a dog away from its owner for a full eight hours and also depriving him of food. At the end of the eight hours, the owner and a tasty treat were offered to the dog at the same time to see which he would prefer. As it turns out, the dog focused his full attention on the owner without a thought about the food. It became obvious that the dog missed its owner and was willing to forego the food just to rush the feet of his owner. The study was repeated with different dogs and the outcome was the same.

The study also showed that the amount of time is a factor in the dog response. Dogs have less of a “glad to see you” response in thirty minutes of deprivation of the owner’s company than they do at 2 hours or more. After just a few hours away from beloved family members, dogs go through a time of melancholy until their owners return and they get to see them again. The researchers also used an MRI to take a look at the brain activity of dogs for the experiment and it confirmed that our dogs do miss us when we’re away for a few hours or more.

What The Dog Project has to say

According to Psychology Today, The Dog Project also used MRI technology to measure the responses of dogs during various training exercises to learn more about emotion and cognition in dogs to determine which dogs would make the best therapy animals. They determined that in training sessions dogs registered a response when they were given rewards for exceptional performance in a training environment. Although the data is still being analyzed, it shows that there may also be differences in cognition and responses from one breed to another.

Dogs respond differently to the scent of different household members, versus their scent. Preliminary analysis of the data shows that dogs have a more profound response to the human scent that is familiar. The researchers in this study gathered enough empirical evidence to suggest that dogs do love their owners and when they’re gone, they miss them terribly. When it comes to emotions, they are happier to see their owners than any other thing in the world, and that includes fellow canines.

Canine perceptions of time

The study also touched on a dog’s ability to discern the differences in time. Can dogs tell the difference between a few minutes and several hours? Researchers pulled data from a Rehn & Keeling report from 2011, that suggests dogs’ feelings of melancholy increased more after two hours and became more intense than after just 30 minutes. The study showed that anything after two hours elicited the same type of response. This implies that dogs can tell the difference between a few minutes and several hours, but it’s unclear how much they can differentiate after a few hours.

Signs that confirm your dog misses you when you’re away

If you want to know whether or not your dog misses you when you’re away, there are some sure signs of it to watch for. The Dog People at Rover point out that dogs act out in ways that let you known they miss you. Dogs feel more secure when they are near something that has your scent on it. If you come home to discover that they’ve chewed on something of yours such as shoes, or are cuddled up with a pair of shoes or resting in your chair, it’s to feel like they’re a little closer to you.

Dogs that cry when you leave are sad to see you go. They whine to let you know they’re not happy about your departure and would prefer you either take them along or stay home. Some dogs do the opposite. They ignore you when you’re leaving because they know that you’ll come back home after work. They become used to regular schedules, but when you arrive back home, your dog will be faithfully watching the door for your return. It’s heartwarming to see them staring out the window in anxious anticipation.

Final thoughts

When you walk through the door, your dog seems to rush to get to you. It can be a little annoying to get hit with all that energy, but it’s a sure sign that your dog has missed you terribly and is very glad that you’re back home. Most dogs have expressive faces and if you’re sensitive and attentive, you can see their facial expressions change. Yes, dogs do smile. You can see it when they raise their eyebrows and open their mouths. They’re smiling at you because they’re glad to see you. When you walk through the door, they tend to lean against you and make physical contact. They usually follow you around the house when you’re trying to set your things down. They don’t care that you’ve just arrived home. All they want is to get your attention and let you know that they’re happy to see you.

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