Why You Should Pet Your Dog Before Leaving The House

It can make a huge difference 💖

pet your dog before leaving house

You hate leaving your dog just as much as he hates seeing you go. But a little affection before you head out could make the separation easier on your dog, according to a study from the Universities of Pisa and Perugia in Italy.

And since this study is four years old, we also spoke with Kaitlyn Tullio, a registered veterinary nurse with DodoVet, who explained more about the calming effects petting can have on dogs.

The results of the study

Petting a dog before a brief separation from the owner may have a positive effect, making the dog calmer during the separation itself,” the study said.

Researchers studied 10 dogs — who don’t have separation anxiety or other issues — and put them through two different tests that separated them from their parents for three minutes.

In one test, parents didn’t pet their pups before leaving, but in the other test, they pet them for one minute.

While both tests saw dogs looking for their pet parents, they seemed to be more relaxed in the tests where they had been pet first.

“When dogs were petted before separation, they displayed behaviors indicative of calmness for a longer period while waiting for the owner's return,” the study said. “And their heart rate showed a marked decrease after the test.”

How petting affects dogs

There’s actually a scientific reason why petting can calm your pup down.

Dogs feel loved and calmed when we pet them,” Tullio told The Dodo. “When dogs are pet, they release the hormone oxytocin, which is often called the ‘love hormone.’”

Because of that, Tullio agrees that petting your dog before leaving the house can be pretty significant for your pet.

“Make sure you have the time to devote to them before they are left alone for the day,” Tullio said. “It will leave them in a calmer and more content place as opposed to you rushing out the dog without even saying goodbye to them. While they may only be a small part of our world, we are their WHOLE world.”

So when you do have to leave your BFF at home, take some time to pet him, even if you’re not going to be gone that long. It really could make that separation way easier for your pup.

Want access to a vet 24/7? With DodoVet, you can connect via video chat, phone or text with an empathetic veterinary expert who can help you be the best pet parent you can be. Say goodbye to Dr. Google and have all your pet parent questions answered anytime, anywhere. Learn more here.