Between the heartrending sad eyes when we leave and the explosion of happiness when we return, many (rightfully flattered) dog owners reasonably wonder what happens in-between. The physical evidence suggests nothing really bad happens—outside the occasional chewed slipper—but it’s nonetheless clear our Yorkie would prefer not to be left behind.
A new study from researchers at the Universities of Pisa and Perugia, Italy, confirms that canines don’t exhibit signs of extreme upset while we’re away. However, the scientists found that dogs do have an easier time emotionally when we give them an affectionate, gentle petting before leaving.
The study is published in ScienceDirect.
The researchers conducted experiments with 10 healthy dogs between 1-11 years old and without unusual attachment issues. Six were spayed females and four were neutered males.
The tests were conducted in an outdoor, fenced-in area and were videotaped for later analysis. Their owners walked their leashed dogs into the fenced area where they greeted a researcher, AKA Test Leader 1. A second researcher measured the dog’s heartbeat using a phonendoscope and quickly departed.