Rocky’s Viewpoint

Rockys Viewpoint

A blog for people who treat their dogs better than family

When Are You Coming Home Mom?

Do you think dogs have a sense of time? I believe they do – they know how long we’ve been away and react differently based on the length of time we’re gone. There was a study done by researchers Therese Rehn and Lindsay Keeling, published in Applied Animal Behavior Science on “The effect of time left alone at home on dog welfare.” Dogs were videotaped and times were recorded at intervals of 30 minutes, 2 hours and 4 hours. The results showed that when they were left alone for long periods of time they displayed a more intense greeting behavior, tail wagging and interaction when reunited with their owners versus when their owners were only gone 30 minutes. Statistically, there is no difference between the 2 and 4 hour separation, but a big difference from the 30 minute separation.

While I believe there is validity to this study, I also believe how your dog perceives separation is dependent on what your dog is accustomed to. The reunion between you and your dog can be mild like “Hi, glad your home” or intense, such as “I’m so happy your home, I’ve missed you, I thought you’d never get here, yeah, happy day!”

My dog Beau was used to being alone for 8 hours at a time when I was working at a job with normal business hours. When I got home, he greeted me, tail wagging, obviously happy to see me – he knew I hadn’t abandoned him. I was returning and he was glad to see me – probably because he knew he was going to be fed! I’ve never been away from Beau for more than a couple of days, but with my dog Maxie (who passed away in 2008) I was. One time I went on vacation for 2 weeks. Her normal workday reception was more exuberant than Beau’s but during that vacation her perception changed. I believe she thought I wasn’t going to return. When I did, she cried, barked, wiggled her butt, and wagged her tail so fast I thought it might come off! The behavior was so intense, I felt guilty for leaving her so long especially after learning she started moping after the 4th day of my absence.

Based on my experience with my own dogs, I think changes in routine correlates directly to the intensity of the behavior surrounding the change. But then again, perhaps our dogs are responding to our own behavior. Or maybe it goes all the way back to their past experiences, with or without us. I think it’s a mixture of all of the abo

Category: Boarding