As you do every day of the week, you come back home and before you've even had time to turn the keys in the door, your four-legged furry friend has gone absolutely nutty with joy. Every dog owner has to go through the same routine - the barking, the jumping up and the face licking. But why do our furry friends go through this clamour every time we're separated for a month, a day, or even an hour?
Dogs are, whether they live in a family of four or fourteen, pack animals, and with this comes the mindset that the pack must always stick together. Therefore, they can't understand why you would leave - they would certainly never leave you! “The exaggerated level of greeting that can be observed in some dogs is likely due to the fact that they have not yet learned to accept the possibility of non-voluntary detachment,” neuroscientist Giorgio Vallortigara told iO9.
This depends on the dog and the situation, but a dog that has a large garden and lots of toys will have expended a lot of energy during the day, while a dog in an apartment will of course go nuts when they now have someone to play with! If your dog becomes hyperactive when you get home, think about maybe investing in a couple more toys for your four-legged friend.
Dogs are descended from the same ancestors as wolves and as such have certain manerisms that echo their undomesticated relatives. If a dog licks your face when you come home, it's not only a kiss - your dog is tasting your face to see what kind of food you've brought home, just like their wolf friends who will have hunted with their jaws and have traces of their prey on their mouths.
Don't get too down about the last one, however - dogs really do love us! Neuroscientist Gregory Berns used an MRI machine to do brain imaging research on dogs, and told iO9 that “there’s a special place in the [dog’s] brain just for us. What we’re finding with the imaging work is that dogs love their humans—and not just for food. They love the company of humans simply for its own sake.”
It's important not to punish your dog for greeting you enthusiastically when you come back home, even if you don't want a soggy face and clothes covered in pawprints. This is because dogs make associations and if each time you punish your dog for greeting you, you will create the association that your coming home is a bad thing - and we don't want that! Instead, try to create a routine using positive reinforcement, so that you can at least take off your coat before being hugged by your furry friend!