Well, the short answer is – Nope.
A very common mistake people make is to project human emotions onto their dogs. The other is to transfer your guilty, nervous energy to your dog before you leave.
As long as someone is meeting your pets’ basic needs with giving food, water, and exercise as well as showering them with love and affection, they will be fine. Most often, they have forgotten about you soon after you’ve left – sorry to say.
Here are a couple things you can try before leaving to make yourself, and perhaps your pet, feel better.
Put an item of your “dirty” laundry that has your scent all over it wherever your dog likes to sleep. That will be a familiar scent and perhaps a comfort. Obviously, do not do this if your dog is prone to chewing up your things!
Take your luggage out at times that you are not actually going anywhere so your dog does not automatically associate it with you leaving. Often, when we take out our luggage and observe that our dog is reacting, we then feel anxious, which the dog then immediately picks up on.
Make arrangements for your pet while you’re gone that allow them to follow as closely as possible to their normal routine. I do feel that a pet sitter or house sitter is best, as your pet is able to stay home with all that is familiar.
We, as pet sitters, are already looked at as buddies and playmates by your dogs. But if you’d like to make us even more appealing, buy a new toy that only we get to use with your dog. You might also suggest a new route for us to walk that you don’t normally take. If your dog has a new challenge or place to explore, there will be no worries. I don’t recommend leaving out any treats, chewies or bones that your dog is not accustomed to eating as it may cause stomach upset.
Dogs react to our emotions
Dogs naturally feed off the energy we give off. If you get all worked up and excited when you come home, your dog matches your energy and bounces around happily, no? The same applies if you’re sad and anxious when leaving. I have always tried to remain very calm when both leaving and coming home to my dogs. I say a quiet, calm goodbye whether I’m leaving for a few hours or a week. When I get home, I try to downplay my emotions as well. I’m never successful when I’ve been away for a week or more, though. I’m just too excited to see them!
A Dog’s Concept of Time
Your dog has no idea how long you’ve been gone.
Dogs live in the moment. They don’t think about the past, they don’t ponder the future, and they don’t have a sense of how much time is passing.
Again, while you’re away, all your dog is concerned with is being fed when he’s accustomed to and engaging in the play and exercising he’s used to. Be sure to set up an adequate schedule with your pet sitter that enables your dog to get plenty of time outdoors and exercise so that they’re content during their time alone.
I’ve had many people over the years tell me they’d be willing to have a pet sitter come for 1-2 nights, but for more than that, they’ll board the dog at a kennel because they feel it’s just too much time for the dog to be home alone. I feel quite the opposite and would love to dispel this misconception. The longer you’re away, the more important it is for your dog to be in familiar, safe surroundings. The longer the dog is in a kennel, the more opportunity there is to be exposed to illness, contract parasites or skin/eye/ear infections, get a stomach upset from food changes, or become sick in any number of ways due to the stress of a kennel environment. For even the most easy-going dog in the best of kennels, there is the chance of any of those things.
My dog seems mad at me when I get home from my trip.
A dog is not capable of holding a grudge. If your dog is acting quieter or different, the more likely reason is that he’s
tired from all the fun he’s had! I’ve had many clients tell me that their dogs get more exercise when they’re away and have us coming several times a day than when they’re home.
It’s important to understand that dogs don’t miss you in the human sense of the term. It is more about the absence of a member of their pack. But, because they live in the moment, they will adjust. It will be quicker for some dogs than others. They will be happy when everyone returns home as now the pack is back together.
I have taken care of many hundreds of dogs, as well as cats, that display no signs of missing their owners while they are away. They may initially seem a bit anxious, but typically adjust to the new routine quite quickly. They seem fine when we come in for their visits, and they are fine when we leave them. Of course they will always be happy to see you when you return!
You can rely on Creature Comforts to provide all the love, attention, exercise, and care needed so that you can go away with peace of mind knowing your pet is happy and content in your absence. For dogs, I recommend at least 3 visits a day, 4 for those needing more exercise or used to a midday outing. You can schedule a park trip each day to get the dog more fun and exercise. If your dog has a little separation anxiety or any medical issues, you may want to see if we have a house sitter available to stay in your home. For cats, I require at least one visit daily.