Ah, dogs. Those lovable floof packages, those clumsy obedience machines, those delightfully dim factories of unbearable cuteness and unwavering loyalty. Dogs deeply care about their human owners – they likely even dream of us as they snooze. Consequently, billions of people love them back.
That, of course, is partly why it’s so hard leaving them on their own. Whether you’re going out for a day or just popping off to the toilet, it’s more likely than not that your dog will look at you like you’re leaving forever. Their eyes will widen, they will begin to whimper, and they appear to be thinking that that’s it – they’re alone forever.
Their state of heartbrokenness is only shattered when you emerge victoriously from what they consider to be an overly long journey into the unknown. Why is it, we at IFLScience wondered, do they not understand that you’re coming back? Importantly, is there anything you can do to convince them otherwise?
In order to attempt to answer this question, we contacted the UK’s Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, an organization that helps to rescue and home cats and dogs around the country. Their Canine Behaviorist and Welfare Team (CBWT) took to the task with aplomb, but be warned – after reading this, you’ll never want to leave your pet puppy alone ever again.
Picture the scene. You’ve said bye to them, you walk out the door, and you’re gone. The reality of the situation dawns on the doggo, and it begins to experience considerable amounts of stress.
“When stress levels increase – a dog’s heart rate, respiratory functions, and levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol – are also likely to rise,” the CBWT told IFLScience.
Make it stop. Inna Astakhova/Shutterstock
“The first 30 minutes after being left alone is usually the most stressful time for the majority of dogs,” they note. “However, for some individuals, this elevated level of stress can last for the whole time that they are left.”
The most common markers of painful isolation are “vocalizations” of protest and “destructive behavior”, but some signs are more subtle. Pacing and excessive salivation are also often markers of acute stress. They likely urinate on the floor as a way of relieving stress.