Dog owners will readily attest to the loyalty of their furry friends. It’s hard to deny that look when a dog’s owner walks out the door every day. But what’s sometimes harder to understand is what our dogs think about while we’re gone.
The answer may well come as an unpleasant surprise. Dogs tend to spend much of their day pining for us. And it’s even worse when it comes to a more extended absence. Saying dogs can become upset about their owners going on vacation is an understatement. Thankfully there are ways to ensure they’re still happy while we’re away. But to understand how to help our dogs we first need to understand how they see the world.
The first thing to keep in mind is that dogs are pack animals. They might be cute and small in comparison to us. But deep down they still have most of that wolf DNA to guide them. And those wolf genes are telling them that they need to be part of a pack. And that as a pack member they have specific roles to fill.
The humans in their lives are seen as hunters. People who go out and find food to bring back. After all, what else could we be doing all day without them by our side? We leave, come back, and are then able to provide food. It makes a lot of sense when you think about it from the dog’s perspective.
There’s only one problem with the fit between reality and their conception of it. In nature a wolf who went hunting would only be gone for a few hours. If the wolf was gone all day it might suggest that he’d been injured or worse. And that’s what a dog’s instincts tell him when we’re at work. Dogs are very smart animals. They know to expect us back that same day. And they can even tell time in a way by keeping note of regular patterns. The movement of the sun, the sounds of vehicles which leave at the same time every day, etc. But deep down the dog’s instincts are telling him that something could be wrong. So it’s little wonder that they can get somewhat upset while we’re gone.
And the situation becomes much worse if we’re away on vacation. To a dog that’s almost an eternity of worry. The one exception is if they have a surrogate pack to reassure them that everything’s OK. This is one of the reasons why services such as boarding kennels Melbourne style are so useful.
When a dog’s owner takes him to a new location he’s sending a clear message. The dog understands that the pack is in travel mode and that they’ll be meeting up again later. And that in the meantime he can have fun with the surrogate pack at the new location. The fact that his owner checked everything out for him gives the dog a sense of confidence in the environment. And the people and other dogs there will quickly help him feel secure and less worried about his owner.