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Dogs not only love their human friends but are also excited to see them around no matter how long it’s been. They are such great companions that they always feel lonely when they are not in our company.
And that’s partly why it’s never easy to leave them by themselves. Whether you are going for the weekend trip or off to your day’s business, your pet friend will likely stare at you like you are never coming back.
It’s only until you return that their heartbroken state shatters. But why do they look sad when you are leaving? And what do they think about when they are alone?
Well, here’s an overview of the potential thoughts that cross the mind of our fur babies when we leave them behind:
1. They Think About their Owners
After over 30,000 years of living together, dogs and humans have developed deep connections. As such, it’s pretty obvious that they think of us too.
According to recent scientific studies, canines don’t just love their owners back; they actually consider them to be family. As it turns out, man’s best friends get more protection and affection from human beings than their kind.
Our canine companions also miss, love, and understand their owners. According to a 2015 survey, dogs enjoy an oxytocin hit whenever they make eye contact with their owners. This study suggests that your canine friend’s love for you is pure and true.
So, anytime you aren’t around, you’re probably running through your dog’s mind all day, and he is likely to be worried about you (his favorite human). This could be the reason they run up to you and give you that warm reception when you come back to the house after a busy day.
2. They Think Of Voicing Their Apprehension
Dogs are social animals by nature. They would live in family groups in the wild and have ‘evolved’ for several years to live with humans as their companions. That’s why you will find most dogs spending their time with humans or other dogs.
In other words, being alone doesn’t come naturally for our canine friends.
So, when they are left alone, dogs becom distressed and sometimes extremely upset.
As a result, they may think of communicating their dismay, which they do by howling, barking, vomiting, defecating, urinating, or destructive behavior.
According to Alice Potter, a dog behavior expert at RSPCA, the first few minutes after you’ve left are the most stressful to your pup. They’ll portray destructive behavior, which primarily targets the door you’ve used to exit.
Other common behavioral signs include self-mutilation, excessive salivation, and abnormal, repetitive activities.
If the anxiety symptoms worsen, your pet may develop abnormal behavior like harassing other pets or defecating at the most inappropriate places Most of the time, they fear that you may never return.
3. They Reflect Or Dream About Their Day
When you leave for a late evening dinner, night shift, or any other activity after spending a good part of the day with your canine friend, they will remain reminiscing about the eventful day you’ve had together.
As they continue to think about you, their favorite human, they’ll also think about or dream about various events.
From the morning walk and the great food you served to the new friend you just met at noon, all the day’s events will be flashing through their mind.
A past study carried on lab rats indicated that animals dream about their day just like we sometimes find ourselves in the office or different places in our dreams.
The study concluded that animals have complex dreams and can replay long sequences of events when they are asleep.
Another research carried on dogs revealed similar findings: it indicated that dogs tend to dream about doggy things/events and that their dream patterns were more or less similar to humans’.
So, when you’ve been away from home for about two days, your dog will miss the daily schedules and won’t help notice when it’s time for the evening walk to the park.
Of course, all these thoughts will make them miss you even more, which could also lead to the separation behaviors mentioned in the previous point.
4. They Think About Events From Their Recent Past
Every moment spent with your dog is a memory that will be embedded in their minds for daysor weeks. Simply put, your canine friend remembers more than you think.
According to a recent scientific study, canines have declarative memory. This means that they can recollect information and facts regarding their past experiences, both the pleasant and the nasty memories.
They also have associative memory that lets them remember a place, experience, or person based on their connection to them.
However, their reminiscence abilities don’t work like ours. So, it’s hard to know what they are thinking of regarding their past.
Canine experts believe that they primarily think about their previous owners. The most memorable ones are those who provided an incredibly loving experience and those who made them feel most traumatized.
When trying to figure whether your pup is drifting down memory lane, pay attention to how he’s behaving or interacting with a particular environment or person.
Most likely, you understand their behavioral traits, so it won’t be hard to spot an unlikely behavior.
For instance, if he becomes aggressive with someone with a hat on, chances are he remember a negative interaction with a hat-wearing person.
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5. They Think About The Future
Science doesn’t say much about dogs’ ability to think about the future. But if you check out the basic principles, you’ll realize that your canine friend is indeed able to think about the future.
Arguing from an evolutionary standpoint, dogs (just like their wild cousins) must have some sense of future planning to be the great hunters that they are.
Without anticipating what moves prey will make next, you really can’t hope for a successful hunt. After all, it all narrows down to thinking about the future.
Furthermore, canines are social creatures. The essence of communication and social interactions is that one party must predict how their behavior will affect that of the other individual.
A recent study on the deceptive ability of dogs also supports the fact that dogs think into the future.
The fact that they can trick another animal shows that they are capable of future thoughts.
Any form of deception involves a calculated process that predicts how the other party will respond to a particular action.
A lot goes through the mind of your canine friend, especially during those moments when they’re all by themselves.
From our discussion above, it’s clear that dogs have strong emotional attachments with their favorite humans, can get extremely upset when left alone, can dream and reflect, can memorize historical events, and think about the future.
Hopefully, now you know what is probably going through your Fido’s mind when you are away or what might have promoted him to defecate in inappropriate places or chew your sofa while you were away.
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Sable M. is a canine chef, professional pet blogger, and proud owner of two male dogs. I have been an animal lover all my life, with dogs holding a special place in my heart. Initially, I created this blog to share recipes, tips, and any relevant information on healthy homemade dog treats. But because of my unrelenting passion to make a difference in the world of dogs, I have expanded the blog’s scope to include the best information and recommendations about everything dog lovers need to know about their canine friends’ health and wellbeing. My mission now is to find the most helpful content on anything related to dogs and share it with fellow hardworking hound lovers. While everything I share is in line with the latest evidence-based veterinarian health guidelines, nothing should be construed as veterinary advice. Please contact your vet in all matters regarding your Fido’s health.