Can dogs be homesick? The answer is definitely yes. If you have ever house sat for a friend, or taken in their pooch while your friend or family member is away, you already know the answer is yes.
Dogs are very emotional fur people and they are very attached to their home and their people. They will begin to show classic signs of anxiety and depression when outside their home, with no sign of their family.
What Are the Signs Your Dog is Homesick?
Let's say you go on vacation and your dog goes to a doggy spa where she can play with other dogs and be pampered by friendly staff members!
But wait, those people are s-s-strangers! Where is my mom? Where is my house? Where is my dog bed? This isn't right!
Your dog will be stressed and anxious if they are staying somewhere new for the first time. A dog can show signs they are homesick by cowering, not eating, not going to the restroom, sighing, whining and not wanting to play. This may go on for a few days. Yes - it is sad, but your dog will be fine when they calm down in their own time.
The History of Dogs and Homesickness
Evidence shows that dogs were the first animals to be domesticated over 15,000 years ago! Dogs became part of the family unit, helping their family to hunt for food. Canine fossils were often found among human fossils, proving they're co-existed as a unit.
Dogs that are lost or away from their home or people, will exhibit signs of depression. It is their pack mentality. The humans who care for and feed them are the dog's pack. When the pack is not together or the dog is outside of his/her familiar territory, anxiety and homesickness will soon follow.
The Science Behind Homesick Dogs
According to scientific research, we know that animals possess many of the same traits humans do, including emotions. All mammals also share neuroanatomical structures like neurochemical pathways in the limbic system that are important for feeling emotions. A dog that is part of a family or a pack then naturally has feelings of love for his family and his home.
When the dog is away from his pack or family, he displays signs of depression, anxiety and sadness. We are so similar to our canine friends that therapy dogs are often used to help college freshman, children in hospitals or people away from home to not be homesick. Those of us who love a dog or have ever loved a dog don't need science to tell us their capacity to liven ove us as their people is endless.
Training Your Pup to Cope with Homesickness
Sometimes it is inevitable that you must leave your dog with family, friends or at a kennel when you travel. Here are some ways to help them through it.
It may seem silly, but don't make a big production over dropping off your pup; only tell them to be good and that you will see them soon. Stay calm and hold the drama. The longer you draw out the farewell, the more anxious your dog will become when you go.
Also, be sure to bring some of your dog's personal "stuff" with you so they will feel more at home - we mean their bed, favorite toys, treats, and anything your pup loves. If you dog is staying at a doggy hotel, many of them have a feature where you can check-in on your pooch over the internet and tell them hi through a microphone.
If your dog is staying with a friend or relative, it's a good idea to call them and check in just to let them hear your voice. Another way you can soothe your baby's anxiety is to tuck a piece of your worn clothing in his bed - he will smell mom or dad and instantly be more at ease.
By a Smooth Coated Collie lover Mary Alane Whalen
Published: 02/01/2018, edited: 04/06/2020