Do Dogs Know When We're Going on Holiday?

Do Dogs Know When You're Going on Vacation?

From Chihuahuas to Great Danes, dogs are some of the most affectionate creatures that we have the pleasure of sharing our lives with. Their love for us is unconditional, and they stick with us no matter what happens.

But how about when we leave them for longer periods of time, sometimes weeks? A dog plays a big part in the family, and going on holiday without them for an extended period can be hard for both humans and pets. Do they know that we are leaving them behind (temporarily) when we are going on holiday without them?

Signs that they know we are leaving

No matter how frequently we leave the house, our dogs still find it challenging to get used to being left alone. They pick up signs that tell them we're about to leave, such as seeing the luggage, putting our shoes on, and even when we get the keys. That is not surprising because dogs are really smart! They can recognize specific objects like their favourite toy, the shoes that they always wear, and other things that are based on their sense of smell and sight.

Dogs' Episodic Memory

Not too long ago, our understanding of dogs' memory was quite simplistic. We believed that they relied solely on a fundamental form of memory called associative memory. This type of memory involves connecting two different things in their minds. A classic example of associative memory in action is when you pick up your dog's leash, and they immediately associate it with the upcoming walk.

However, recent research has brought to light compelling evidence suggesting that dogs possess a more advanced memory known as episodic memory, which plays a crucial role in their recollection of us. Episodic memory allows dogs to forge links between people and the experiences they've shared. To put it simply, the more memorable moments you create with your dog, the more significant you become to them.

Dog and human sitting on the floor

Do dogs have a sense of time?

So, now we know dogs possess episodic memories, enabling them to recall specific life events. However, when it comes to understanding the passage of time, dogs fall short.

While your dog may remember you leaving the house, they cannot gauge how long you've been gone. This absence can trigger stress, often linked to separation anxiety, suggesting some level of time awareness. Dogs, though, don't grasp the abstract concept of time as humans do. They can't measure seconds, hours, or minutes, nor can they read clocks. So, telling your dog, "I'll be back soon" may not have a significant impact.

The dog knows your going away 

Given that dogs can remember us and read the cues, then yes, they most likely know when we are going away, although, not for how long. Saying goodbye to your pet will always be a little heartbreaking for both parties (especially when they respond to you with a whimper!) but there are things that we can do to make it a little easier for your pooch.

Read our other helpful article: Tips for leaving your dog behind

Leaving your dog behind 

Creating a positive association with dogs

We can help ease our dog's anxiety from seeing us leave through positive reinforcement. Give your dog time to associate the objects related to your departure and other cues that you are leaving with something good -- like treats!

For example, you can reward them when they stay put while you're packing. You can also let them smell the luggage, and then toss them a biscuit afterwards so they can associate your luggage with something happy.

If you're leaving your dog with someone, like a pet sitter, let them have some bonding time beforehand and instruct them to be affectionate with your dog, and be specific about its likes -- does Fido like belly rubs or back scratches?

You can also leave comforting items such as your dog's usual food and treats, one of your shirts, a pair of socks, or a special blanket. It's not going to be the same as you, but it's something they can recognize. It's also recommended to leave them a lot of toys to keep our dogs occupied while we are away.

Take them out for a walk before leaving

Another way to lower our dog's stress levels is to take them out for a walk before we pack. Play fetch and get them moving. Just like humans, exercising can help our dogs feel more relaxed through the changes. This way, it can also keep the dog's brain healthy, in the same way, we feel enlivened after a good workout.

Let our dogs have a vacation as well

While we are away, why not give our dogs an enjoyable holiday as well? Board them in a place that provides a caring home away from home for your dog. Dog boarding kennels are often the cheapest yet the best option. Different offerings are available for every type of dog at every price point.

Since there are lots of kennels out there, it's essential to do your research first before deciding. A family-owned and operated pet boarding facility is always a good choice, just like Alida's pet resort. Testimonials and reviews from other people will help you in deciding which is the right facility to choose for your dog.

Standard kennels make use of individual cages or rooms, but well-socialised dogs will be allowed out for playtime. You don't have to worry about the health of our dogs because most of the pet boarding facilities provide plenty of exercise for them.

Dog in hammock with hat

Board Your Dogs at Alida’s Pet Resort

We can't always take our dog with us on every holiday and sadly, they do know when we’re going away. Thankfully there are solutions such as the ones mentioned above that can help ease the separation anxiety of our dogs. We can now enjoy our vacation without worrying too much.

Have a look at some of our happy dog guests we've had the pleasure to host in the past.

If you live on the Gold Coast or Brisbane, the best place to board your dogs when going on holiday is Alida’s Pet Resort, a family-owned pet boarding facility in Alberton. We are one of the biggest dog kennels in Queensland, with ample space for your pets to exercise and socialise.

At Alida’s Pet Resort, we’ll provide a home to your dogs and make them safe, comfortable, and happy while you’re taking a well-deserved break.

Call us on 07 5546 2275 to book your reservations or enquire about our services. You can also make online bookings for your convenience!