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We know the perfect time to pet our pooches is any time, but there is one particular moment when it is extra important: before we leave the house.

New research has revealed that our dogs are not terribly upset while we are away – as long as we have given them some affection before we leave. The study, carried out by researchers at the Universities of Pisa and Perugia in Italy, confirmed that dogs don’t exhibit signs of extreme distress when their humans are out, but cope better emotionally if we give them some gentle petting prior to leaving.

These conclusions were drawn after researchers monitored the behavior of 10 healthy dogs between the ages of one and 11: six spayed females and four neutered males. None had unusual attachment issues. The group was made up of seven mixed-breed dogs, one Labrador retriever, one Hovawart and one Chihuahua.

Tests were conducted in outdoor areas and involved measuring the dogs’ heartbeats when their owners “left” and cortisol levels after owners “returned”: owners handed their dogs over to researchers and moved to an area considered too far for their pets to pick up their scent. Researchers then ran a series of tests over five to nine days called “No Gentle Touch” and “With Gentle Touch”.


They found that the dogs – allowed to move as much as their 16-foot (1.5 meter) leashes allowed – spent significant time searching for their owners: between 84.5 and 87.5 seconds within three minutes. However, those who had been petted prior to their owners leaving showed a more relaxed demeanor during the separation.

The research is sure to come as a relief to pet owners everywhere who may worry about their fur-kids when they are out. While we know our pooches would prefer to be with us, the study shows that our dogs fare fine on their own. Just be sure to cuddle your fur-kid before you leave. It will greatly benefit them and make their separation from you that much easier.


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