Is it a Good Idea to Pet Your Dog?
Dog owners and their dogs can feel very attached to each other and it can be stressful for both of them when the owner has to head out the door. It used to be the common understanding that it was better for dog owners to leave without petting their dogs because saying goodbye can make it more stressful for both parties.
However, recent studies have shown that petting your dog before heading out can make the dog feel calmer and more relaxed before the outing takes place.
Pilot Experiment About Petting
There was a pilot experiment where in one scenario, a human would pet a dog before leaving and in a second scenario, the human would not pet the dog before heading outside. Researchers took note of the heart rates, saliva cortisol levels, and behaviors of the dogs before and after the human left the room.
The dogs who were petted displayed more calm behavior and had a lower heart rate than the dogs who were not petted. The dogs who were petted tended to cope with the separation better and deal with the stress better than the ignored dogs. The dogs who were petted laid down on the floor more than the other dogs and lying down is a calm behavior that dogs perform when they are not stressed.
I Have to Leave for Vacation Without My Dog. What Should I Do Prior to It?
It can be very hard on both parties as your dog is a member of your family and being separated from your dog can break your heart since you won’t be able to come home that same day to see him. There are, however, some things you can do to mentally prepare your dog before you have to go.
(1) Spend extra time with your dog. You might think this would lead to an abrupt change for the dog. First you are spending much more time than normal with your dog and then after you have to go, it’s not possible for both of you to spend any time together.
However, it does help to spend more time with your dog prior to your departure as every moment your dog appreciates and it will be easier on him mentally. Going for extra walks outside with your dog can go a long way.
(2) Leave familiar items with your dog before you have to get going. The items that the dog is familiar with (your shirts, blanket, his usual food) will still have the same smell and can comfort your dog even when you’re not around. Your dog will miss you of course, but he probably won’t miss you as much if he is with familiar items.
(3) Get a pet sitter and have the dog meet the pet sitter beforehand. Your dog won’t feel he’s with a complete stranger if he already knows the pet sitter and it will be much easier on him mentally.