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When I leave the house I always wonder, what does my dog think when I leave? Is he going to miss me? Does he think I have abandoned him? I will share with you what I have found on this touchy subject.
As we close the front door and leave for work or go shopping that thought goes through our heads! What does my dog think when I leave, when walking down the sidewalk or to the car we are constantly thinking about our Lhasa Apso. Here are some answers to help you understand this, so you can go about your daily duties peacefully.
- Do they feel abandoned?
- What signs do they show?
- Do dogs have a sense of time?
- What does your dog do when you leave?
- Do dogs actually miss us?
Do they feel abandoned?
Ask yourself the same question, have you at some time felt abandoned in life. I’m sure there has been a moment when you have felt all alone, no one there to comfort you, sad and wondering when the loneliness will end. As dogs have evolved with us humans they sense a closeness and peace when they are next to us. Street dogs have a different view of life and tend to shy away from us, not knowing if we are friend or foe they are very cautious until we start to leave food around and slowly approach them. At this point, stray dogs will start to accept us being on their territory and a bond between you and the dog starts. And this bond between you will last for the dog’s life.
Lucky my Lhasa Apso was abandoned by his previous owner, I found him in the grounds where I work, bedraggled and cold, looking so sad and a real mess, I put him outside of the grounds on two consecutive days then on the third day when I found him again next to me I took him home, and that poor abandoned pup and I started to build that friendship and bond that has now lasted seventeen years.
I am fortunate that when I leave for work Lucky can come with me, we are together most of the day on the grounds, that closeness and bond is visible as he goes off to do his stuff, sniffing and looking for rabbits or whatever he gets up too, but will always come and find me again and give me a little rub on my leg to let me know he is there. I am his protector, and he feels safe by my side and in my presence. If we are separated for some reason then I know he will miss me. If you already have your pet Lhasa Apso that bond is there and when you leave them alone you worry so much.
As we leave for work or even just pop down to the shopping center for one hour, the question going through your mind is; what does my dog think when I leave? The first thing your pet will be thinking is of the separation, you are no longer in their sight, they do not see you anymore, then their nose will alert them your presence has gone. But before you leave home and them, the anguish sets in and they start to get restless as they see you preparing to leave. Maybe getting right under your feet, running around in circles, barking and crying are all signs that they know you are going to leave them and they will be alone. Dogs have this uncanny sixth sense that they know what is going to happen as you put your coat on. Have you lost a loved one? the emptiness you feel that someone so close is no longer there? Your pet knows no difference, all they know is that you have gone and left their life, they now feel so alone and abandoned at this point. So they do indeed feel abandoned when you leave them alone, that bond you two have is forever.
As we leave for work or even just pop down to the shopping center for one hour, the question going through your mind is; what does my dog think when I leave? The first thing your pet will be thinking is of the separation, you are no longer in their sight, they do not see you anymore, then their nose will alert them your presence has gone. But before you leave home and them, the anguish sets in, and they start to get restless as they see you preparing to leave. Maybe getting right under your feet, running around in circles, barking and crying are all signs that they know you are going to leave them, and they will be alone. Dogs have this uncanny sixth sense that they know what is going to happen as you put your coat on. Have you lost a loved one? The emptiness you feel that someone so close is no longer there? Your pet knows no difference, all they know is that you have gone and left their life, they now feel so alone and abandoned at this point. So they do indeed feel abandoned when you leave them alone, that bond you two have is forever.
What signs do they show?
As mentioned above your Lhasa Apso will start to show signs before you leave them. Your lovely little pet is so much in love with you that I am sure they dream about us, do not forget that they are our protectors, they have this strong bond towards us, in return, we humans shower them with love and cuddles, and yes we even talk to them as our best buddies, telling them all about our day, they are part of our life. This makes going out of the home even harder for us knowing they are left on there own.
You will notice their behavior starts to change as you prepare yourself, these changes can be observed in things such as that long curious staring you in the face, opening those big beautiful eyes that make you feel guilty before you even get out of the door. At this point, they may even start to whimper a little to add more of the guilt feeling for you. Maybe your Lhasa Apso gets under your feet almost tripping you, they know you are going to leave them alone and they do not know if you are going to come back!
Now you have walked out the door, their lives are shattered, they feel abandoned, sad, lonely. At this stage your pet dog may bark a lot, trying to call you, ”come back home” they might try and comfort themselves by curling up in their bedding, with their own comforting odors where they feel safe. Canine behaviorists in London have studied dogs in these exact situations and have concluded that our dogs suffer from emotional stress when we leave them, which increases their heart rate and breathing, at the same time releasing more of the stress hormones cortisol which becomes an ever-increasing cycle.
Most dogs can get over this traumatic loss in around half an hour, but there are some cases where it can last the whole time you are away making the stress permanent during the duration of your absence. Dogs that can not support this separation may pace endlessly, they will tend to have excessive salivation, even to the point where they may urinate in the home to release that stress. Other dogs revert to being destructive in releasing their stress, destroying furniture or their bedding for example.
Do dogs have a sense of time?
Our lives are controlled by time, what time do we have to awake, what time do we leave for work, we get home at what time etc etc. Our homes have wall clocks or other time revealing apparatus’s that lets us know how long there is left to do something, a meeting, doctors, we as humans have this notion of time. But what about our little Lhasa Apso, do they have a notion of time?
We can relate to time in seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, and years, our memories can remember things from way back in time. Can our canine pets have that same capability? We remember things that were taught to us at school so long ago, (well it was for me) and our pets remember a thing by associating them with activities, smells or our voice commands, this is called associative memory. This is one way they can associate events to different times of the day. When I start to prepare my evening dinner Lucky will go to his bowl to eat some biscuits, his bowl is always there for him but he sense’s that this is now the time to eat, by seeing and hearing what I am doing he associates this with his mealtime.
We have an inbuilt body clock that we call the Circadian rhythm, this is our internal alarm clock that controls our day, what time to wake up, time to eat, and time to go to bed, etc. Our K9 friends do have this Circadian rhythm as well, and as day breaks and night falls our pets can get an idea on time spans, but they do not have watches on their legs as yet, and can not perceive time as we do. Back in 2011 two researchers in Sweeden found that dogs do have some idea how long you are absent from their lives, and I can back up their findings. When I just go into the grounds for an hour to work my Lhasa Apso Lucky just continues his life normally not showing any signs of stress in my absence, no big fuss when I enter the home, if on the other hand, If I am absent and leave for the morning, say four hours then yes he is so happy to see me again, and will run around excited. This backs up what the two researchers discovered, that dogs do not know if we have been gone two hours or six hours they do not have any perception of how long we are away after two hours.
This shows to us our pets do know the difference between being out of their lives for only short periods, l like thirty mins or so, as opposed to two hours or more. The Lhasa Apso has a terrific nose, our body smells linger in the home for a while after we leave and slowly they become fainter, now our dogs sense this reduction in their nose receptors and this is letting them know that time is passing. Dogs do have a somewhat basic perception of time, but in no way can that be associated with our own perception. Can you imagine your doggies area with a wall clock 🙂
What does your dog do when you leave?
So you have to go and leave your dog at home alone, there is no possible way of you taking them with you, it could be important work commitments, a shopping run, whatever, no way can they go along with you this time. So you are going through the guilty thought stage of leaving your pet all alone at home. As you drive off you are thinking what is my dog going to do now he is alone? Let us hope this does not affect your work or driving skills by worrying too much.
As mentioned above your pet is going to be stressed by your absence. If your Lhasa Apso is of the anxious type then they will not settle until your return crying, barking, pacing around the home, being destructive with the furniture, scratching at the door, signs which do not help you in your anguish. When you get back home and you sense your pet is unusually tired, it could be due to the unrestful time they have had in your absence.
On the other hand, if your dog is the less stressful type when you leave, then after the initial few minutes of worry they will probably settle down in their bed and patiently await your return This is just how my Lucky behaves. Researchers have also found that pedigree dogs seem to suffer more from stress separation problems than crossbreeds.
Here are four tips from Dr. Emily Blackwell/RSPCA that will help teach your Lhasa Apso to cope with separation, do not forget to treat and reward your dog after each step with treats and encouragements.
- Teach your dog to lay down in his bed calmly while you are in his presence, do this several times with a reward after each effort
- Teach them to remain in their bed as you back off slowly, again do this often and rewards at the end of each.
- Now do the same but move further away for longer periods, if your dog moves then go back to the previous step and do not reward until they understand this order correctly
- This final lesson will involve doing the same again, but this time you to walk out the door for longer periods, each time you repeat this lesson make the absent times longer and longer, do not forget those rewards and praise.
Do dogs really miss us
I firmly believe they do miss us when we are no longer around them as much as we miss them. Our body smells have been impregnated into their memory, their ability to become sniffer dogs in the Army just goes to show how acute their sense of smell is refined. You and your odor create such a strong bond between the two of you that they can never forget you.
Look at your pet and their reaction when you return home, they are so happy to see you, smell you, wagging their tails, running around so excited. If they had not missed us then they would not show these signs of joy when we return. Although dogs only have the emotional competency of a young child science has proven that they can remember strong emotional ties and sense when we are angry, happy or when we raise our voice they can become scared, these are emotional ties that they will remember. Your dog loves you for sure, you are part of their lives and they are going to miss you every time you leave them.
When a dog owner passes away their dog’s behavior changes, they become less active, tend to do nothing, nothing interests them anymore, they are deeply missing their owner so much, they are heartbroken. I this happens you can help them by showing love and compassion to them just as we do to humans who have lost a dear one. Yes, dogs do really miss us when we are gone.
How do dogs remember us
Just as we recognize people with our eyes so our dog will recognize us by our feet walking on the sidewalk, yes I know this sounds crazy but a long time ago when I would visit a friend her dog knew I was arriving before I knocked on the door, her dog had heard my footsteps along the pathway and was already becoming excited, then the sight of you will make them happy and they start to wag their tails a lot, then, of course, they will sniff you to make sure it is you. With three hundred million receptors up their nose, they are well equipped to know us! A dog has two types of memory which help in remembering us, they are short term and associated memory. An example; you come home and find that your dog has been naughty and destroyed something in your home, it is no good scolding them as they have forgotten what they have done, this short memory will last around sixty seconds. Associated memory is one that last’s for years and its the type of memory they will retain for life for example; you have spent days teaching your pet dog a new trick, you have rewarded them each time they get it right, this they will remember for their lifetime. A dog is more than capable to remember someone for their whole life, their brains will store associated events and people if someone along their life has made them happy they will never forget, so just shower your dog in love and treats and they will never forget you