What Does Your Dog Think About When You’re Gone?

Monday, March 19th, 2018

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Ever wonder what goes through our furry buddy’s brain whenever they’re left alone to their own devices? Worry not, using data based on scientific research and a little bit of imagination, we’ve come up with an almost accurate dialogue of our dogs’ thought processes when we’re gone. Here’s what they think about the minute to four hours after you step out of the house.

The First Minute

You: “See you later, buddy. I’m off to work.”

Your dog: “Oh hey, where are you going? Come back! Where are you going? Thanks for feeding me, by the way, but hey come back! Why are you getting into that metal animal? Oh no! It ate you! No! Give me back my human! No!! Welp, I can’t smell him anymore. I miss my human. I miss him being here to feed me and play with me. I’d do anything to get my human back.”

Studies done at the Anthrozoology Institute at Bristol University have shown that dogs are very prone to levels of separation anxiety attacks similarly close to trauma experienced by children abandoned by their parents. These may manifest itself through your dog treading around in circles or as nuisance barking and whining.

After 30 Minutes

Your dog: “Guess I’ll have to learn to be independent now. I miss my human. Oh hey, my ball. Maybe I can chew on this for a bit while I think up of ways to support myself from now on. Chew chew chew. Ok, now I’m bored. Let’s see what’s happening on the other side of the house. Oh hey, Chico (the other dog)! What’s up, my dawg? Did you know that our human’s gone? I miss him, do you miss him too? Maybe we can chase each other around and play a little just to keep our minds off the pain.”

Leaving your dog’s favorite toys around can help alleviate some of your dog’s boredom and anxiety. This could also help in keeping your dog from destroying your furniture while you’re gone. Having another dog around may or may not be a good thing. On the one hand, they could be great companions and serve as playmates for each other. On the other, compatibility between dogs can sometimes fall short.

After 2 Hours

Your dog: “This window looks chill. Sometimes I like staring out the window and reminisce about the good times I had with my human. What the.. Cat! Hey cat! Get away from here cat! You’re totally ruining my reminiscing vibe! I miss my human. He usually feeds me around this time. My tummy is grumbling. Oh look, it’s Amy (the pet-sitter)! Hi! Here to refill my bowl and take me for a walk? Do you know that my human is gone? I miss him so much. You’re a pale substitute for my human but you’ll do for now.”

Humans and dogs perceive the passage of time differently. Humans have “episodic memory” where we attach significance to past and future events. In turn, we can remember or foresee events even if they’re not happening presently. Dogs (and most animals) lack this higher mental function and are more “stuck in the now”. They are, however, able to process time through internal clocks and “circadian oscillators” – cues from the body telling them when to eat, sleep, or procreate. Around this time, your dog will be pretty restless or hungry.

After 4 Hours

Your dog: “You know, Amy, you’re not so bad. I like it when you scratch me behind the ear but not so much under my chin. I’ve pretty recently suffered a loss and I’m at a vulnerable state right now, but maybe you and I could…wait a tick…*sniff sniff* No. He’s back! Human you’re back! I love you so much! Only you! Not Amy! That was just a fling! I didn’t know if you were coming back and she was here and one thing led to another but you’re back! I love you, I love you, I love you!”

Recent studies conducted at Emory University scanned the brains of dogs and their neural responses to the smell of people and dogs, both known and unknown. The results showed that of all the scents a dog can smell, the dog owner’s scent sparks the most activation in the dog’s caudate nucleus or “reward center.” This, in turn, proves that dogs prioritize their owner’s smell over everything else.

Whether or not our dogs go through a whole drama series in their heads when we leave them is entirely a non-issue. What’s really important is that their daily needs are met without compromise in order to minimize any anxieties on their part. If you feel like you’ll be missing a few hours or a  few days of doggy care, just give us a ring at Pet Nanny and we’ll gladly handle all your pet-care worries for you.

What’s more, you don’t have to worry about dropping off or picking up your dogs – we come to you! A typical Pet Nanny visit runs 20 minutes and includes potty time, walk, play time, treat, water refresh, and a note for you. On top of that, we personalize our routines depending on yours and your dog’s needs! Get in touch with us at 734-981-6108 or you can use our online contact form and we will be in touch shortly.

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