Does Your Dog Really Miss You When You're Gone?

The tail wag says it all.

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Even if work completely stinks, there's always one thing you can count on at the end of a long day: Coming home to sloppy kisses from your furry best friend waiting for you at the door. But is your dog's happy dance really from missing you? In the video below, BrainCraft looked into the emotional side of canines to find out.

Just like humans, dogs have the ability to love. In a January 2015 study published in Behavioural Processes, scientist Gregory Berns looked at dogs' brainwaves and behaviors using MRI imaging technology as they were faced with different scents. When they smelled the scent of their loving owner, the part of the brain involved in positive expectations and rewards was activated. When they smelled other dogs, someone they were familiar with but didn't live with, or someone they didn't recognize, they didn't have the same outcome.

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In another January 2015 study, researchers looked at dogs' behavior and how it changed depending on how familiar they were with the person. The result? The dogs always preferred their owners, even over other people they were familiar with. In one test, dogs waited behind the door their owners went through, but not the door of someone else they knew.

And what about their perception of time? In another 2011 study in Applied Animal Behaviour Science, the longer you're away, the more your pooch misses you. Researchers found the effect of time left alone was visible from how the dogs greeted their owners after certain increments. After two hours of separation, the dogs showed more attentive behavior than they did after 30 minutes.

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All in all, you can rest assured: Your dog misses you when you're away just as much as you miss them, whether that's during a short trip to the grocery store or when you're gone all day long at work. And even though science can prove it, so do some pretty amazing stories of dogs and their owners throughout history.

We're particularly fond of the example of Hachiko, an Akita dog in Japan, who met his owner at a nearby train station each day as he returned home from work. Sadly, one day his owner had a cerebral hemorrhage and died; he didn't return to meet his dog for the first time since they started their routine. As heartbreaking as it is, Hachiko continued to wait for him every single day for the next 11 years until he passed away himself. There's still a statue at Shibuya Station in Tokyo honoring his loyalty.

Yeah, we're crying, too.

So the next time you come home to a happy pup and walk right past him, don't — he was anxiously awaiting your return the entire day. (Feel free to return the inevitable slobbery kiss to show your appreciation.)

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