How Does My Dog Know When I’m Going on Vacation?

By May 15, 2020 May 22nd, 2020 Pet Behavior

Dogs are loving and insightful animals. When you’re feeling blue, your dog will jump up on your lap and smother you with wet kisses. Your dog can sense how you are feeling, and instinctively knows that you are about to come through the front door. So, it’s not surprising that your dog also has the savvy to understand the signs that you are about to go away on a trip without him. 

Seeing the Suitcase Come Out

Your dog knows that something is up the second your luggage comes out of the closet. Dogs are able to recognize things by a combination of an object’s appearance and scent – their favorite squeaking toy, your favorite sneakers. Just as your dog has a relationship with his most loved ball, he also has one with your suitcase. However, in this case, the association is not a happy one, and the sight of that luggage will trigger certain negative behavior patterns. 

How Do Dogs Learn?

One way that dogs learn is by association – connecting sights, sounds, and odors to specific outcomes. Your dog’s anxiety when he knows you are going somewhere without him is the result of associated learning. That being said, if you always go on vacation with your dog, seeing a backpack and watching you stuff clothes into it will be a source of great excitement for your good trail companion.

Creating a Positive Association

When all the signs indicate to your dog that you’re going on vacation without him, you can help him feel more at ease by using some training techniques. Show him your luggage and let him smell it. Then use some positive reinforcement tools so that the connection he makes is a happier one. Show him a lot of affection and give him some treats. If you have a regular dog sitter, make sure she gives your best friend some extra attention. It won’t be as good as having you there, but at least it’s something enjoyable your dog can anticipate.

How Much Does My Dog Miss Me When I’m Gone?

Dogs and humans relate to time differently. People look at a watch or note where the sun is in the sky. However, a study found that dogs have a more limited sense of how time passes. It found that dogs definitely feel the excitement when their owners return, but the length of the absence doesn’t seem to make a great deal of difference in the level of the emotion. 

Your Dog Does Know When You’re Going on Vacation

So, your dog knows you’re going away, and he’s most likely not going along. He will start acting out and pull out his big guns—the pleading puppy dog eyes and the whining—hoping that his sorrowful look and sounds will convince you not to go. If you really can’t bear to leave your dog behind, with some careful planning and depending on the type of trip, you can take your dog with you. However, rest assured even if your dog misses you intensely while you’re away, be confident that the moment he hears the sound of your car in the driveway, his tail will be wagging like crazy, and you’ll be greeted by a loving friend. It will be just like you never left.

If you do take your dog with you on vacation, please make sure you have the details of emergency veterinary clinics in the area(s) you will be traveling through. If your trip takes you to or near Columbia, SC, CVETS should be on your list as one of the best emergency care centers in the country. Get the details here.