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What do dogs think when we are gone?

Dogs have been our faithful companions for thousands of years, providing us with loyalty, love, and endless joy. As pet owners, we often wonder what goes through the minds of our furry friends when we are not around. Do they miss us? Do they think about us? In this blog post, we will explore the fascinating topic of what dogs think when we are gone.

Understanding Canine Cognition

To understand what dogs might be thinking when we are not present, we need to delve into their cognitive abilities. Dogs possess remarkable thinking and perceiving capabilities, although their thought processes differ from humans in several ways.

One of the unique aspects of dog cognition is their sense of time. While humans have a well-developed concept of past, present, and future, dogs have a different understanding of time. Studies suggest that dogs have their daily schedules deeply ingrained in their minds, making them highly aware of routine activities.

Additionally, dogs have impressive memory capabilities. They can remember past experiences and learn from them. This ability allows them to associate specific cues with certain events or activities. Above all, dogs display emotional intelligence, understanding and responding to human emotions and cues.

Dogs’ Perception of Absence

Dogs are highly social animals, and their well-being is closely tied to their attachment to humans. They form strong bonds with their owners and become accustomed to their presence and routines. Therefore, when owners are absent, dogs may experience a range of emotions and exhibit behavioral changes.

When we are gone, dogs may feel a sense of loneliness and longing for our presence. They may seek comfort in familiar scents and objects that remind them of us. Furthermore, they may experience anxiety and stress due to the sudden change in their environment and routine. Separation anxiety, a common condition in dogs, can manifest in various behaviors such as excessive barking, destructive behavior, and house soiling.

What Dogs Might Think When We Are Gone

While we can’t know for certain what dogs think when we are not around, studies and observations provide some insights into their thought processes.

Dogs may think about the past, reminiscing about shared experiences and interactions with their owners. Memories of joyful walks, playtime, or cuddling sessions may bring them comfort and happiness. These memories contribute to their overall perception of the world and their place within it.

On the other hand, dogs may also think about the future. They have the capacity to anticipate upcoming events. For example, they may associate specific cues like grabbing their leash or putting on shoes with going for a walk. Dogs’ ability to anticipate events helps them prepare mentally and emotionally.

Emotional Experience of Absence

The absence of their owners can evoke a range of emotions in dogs. Loneliness, longing, and a sense of loss can be prevalent during these times. Dogs may feel a void in their lives when their human counterparts are not present. This emotional experience can vary from dog to dog, depending on their individual temperament and attachment style.

Moreover, the separation can cause anxiety and stress in dogs. The unfamiliarity of being alone or in the care of someone else can create a sense of insecurity and instability. This emotional distress can manifest in various behavioral changes, such as pacing, panting, whining, or even destructive behavior.

The impact of absence on a dog’s overall well-being and mental health should not be underestimated. It is essential for owners to understand and address their dogs’ emotions and needs during these times.

Communication with Absent Owners

Even when we are not physically present, there are ways to maintain a connection and provide reassurance to our dogs. Dogs have various ways of communicating their feelings and seeking comfort.

Vocalizations and barking are common ways for dogs to express themselves. They may bark or howl to communicate their distress, loneliness, or excitement. Owners can pay attention to the different tones and pitches of their dog’s vocalizations to understand their emotional state.

Dogs also seek comfort in familiar scents and objects that remind them of their owners. A blanket, a piece of clothing, or a cherished toy can provide a sense of security and familiarity. These scents and objects carry the owner’s scent, offering reassurance to the dog.

In today’s digital age, visual cues like photos or videos can also provide comfort to dogs. Some owners leave a television or radio on when they are away, giving their dogs the illusion of company and human presence.

Ways to Mitigate Separation Anxiety and Loneliness

To help our dogs cope with separation anxiety and loneliness, there are several strategies that owners can employ:

1. Establishing a consistent routine: Dogs thrive on routine and predictability. Having a structured daily schedule can help alleviate anxiety and provide a sense of stability.

2. Providing mental and physical stimulation: Engaging dogs in mental and physical activities not only keeps them occupied but also stimulates their minds and prevents boredom. Puzzle toys, interactive games, and daily walks can help alleviate stress and anxiety.

3. Using technology to remotely interact with your dog: With the advancement of technology, there are now various gadgets and apps that allow owners to remotely interact with their dogs. Video calls, treat-dispensing cameras, and remote-controlled toys can help bridge the distance and provide some level of companionship.


Although we cannot fully comprehend the complexities of what dogs think when we are gone, studying their cognitive abilities and observing their behaviors give us valuable insights into their experiences. Dogs have the capacity to think, perceive, and form strong emotional bonds with their owners. It is crucial for us, as responsible pet owners, to understand and address their emotions and needs during times of absence. By providing reassurance, maintaining routines, and utilizing available resources, we can strengthen the bond between dogs and their owners and ensure their overall well-being and happiness.


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