As all dog owners know, coming home to a dog who is super excited to see you is a lovely thing to experience.
So, if you are asking yourself the question – why do dogs get excited when you come home?
We can explain this in two ways, firstly in dog psychology and evolution, then in the hormones that drive their behaviors.
But first, here is the short answer.
The Reason Why Your Dog Gets Excited When You Come Home:
Dogs get excited when their owners return because the most important person in their life left them and came back.
That’s a very exciting moment for your beloved dog.
They always want to be with you, don’t like being apart, and love it when you are around.
Always Remember Dogs are Social Animals
Your pet dog is a social animal. The need for strong social bonds is a hard-wired part of their brain.
They have evolved like this over tens of thousands of years, all the way back to their wolf pack ancestors.
They are happiest when in a pack situation with other dogs and humans.
As the dog’s owner, you are not just another pack member. You are by far the most important pack member!
Even if you have other dogs that make up their pack, you are the one that feeds them, cares for them, strokes them, takes them for walks, etc.
So, it is only natural that when you leave the house and return (even just a few hours later), they will be very excited to see you return.
So, the fact that your dog goes crazy is a huge compliment. It means they love you and hate being apart from you, this is such a blessing and one of the many reasons why being a dog owner is so rewarding.
NOTE – You may enjoy reading this post about why dogs look out the window so much.
The Science of Your Dog Being Excited When You Get Home
Two primary hormones can affect dogs’ excitement levels when their owners return. The two hormones are Cortisol and Oxytocin.
Cortisol is a Dog’s Stress Hormone
In both humans and canines, cortisol is released in the brain during times of stress.
So roughly speaking, the higher the stress levels, the higher the cortisol levels.
It helps manage and regulate the body’s response to stress and perceived dangers or threats.
Simply put, releasing cortisol is a coping mechanism for high-stress situations.
NOTE – You also find this post about dogs whining when they see their owners interesting to read.
Oxytocin is a Dog’s Bonding Hormone
Oxytocin is sometimes called the love hormone or the bonding hormone. In both humans and dogs, it creates social bonds (human to human and human to dog) and trust.
One example is that oxytocin is released in humans and dogs when they engage in positive interactions with each other.
So when you pet or play with your dog, oxytocin will be released in your and your dog’s brains, increasing your bond.
The Interplay of These Two Crucial Hormones
Cortisol, a stress hormone, is higher when the dog is stressed, in this case, due to being left alone.
This is especially true for dogs that suffer from separation anxiety. Their cortisol levels will be much higher when you are not present.
So, when the dog’s owner comes home, oxytocin comes into play, which reduces the heightened cortisol levels.
This combination of these hormones makes the dog feel so excited when you return home after an extended period away.
Obviously, this is a simplified explanation.
To get much deeper, you would have to start reading veterinary textbooks!
Note – While we are on the subject, feel free to check out this adorable video of dogs getting very excited when their owners come home!
Why Does My Dog Get Zoomies When I Get Home?
Zoomies are a way for your dog to release pent-up energy.
When you come home, they are so excited to see you that they have very high energy levels.
By running around, they get to release that energy and thus feel better.
NOTE – You might also like to read this post looking at the question, why are dogs always happy?
Final Notes On Why Dogs Get Excited When Their Owners Come Home
Dogs get excited when their owners come home because they are pack animals.
Naturally, you are the most important member of the pack.
So when you return home, the dog is understandably happy and excitable.
Your dog loves you. You are the most important thing in their world, and it makes perfect sense that they would be so happy to see you.
Complicated hormonal processes in the dog’s brain and body cause this excitement, mainly driven by the cortisol and oxytocin hormones.
Understanding the basics of this hormone interaction is interesting.
Still, the most important thing to remember is that your dog loves being with you, misses you when you are gone, and you are fortunate to have a loving dog in your life.
NOTE – You may find this post interesting. It looks at the question – why do dogs go crazy after a bath?
A Last Point About Your Dog’s Well-Being
As a caring dog owner who now understands why dogs miss when you leave them at home, you must do your best to minimize the time they are left on their own.
This isn’t always easy, but you can do your best by leaving toys, chews, and blankets with your smell on, which can help relieve your dog’s stress.
(But of course, your dog will still be really excited when you come home, and that’s just the way most dogs are!)
NOTE – Take a look at this post if you are interested in the question: why do dogs run in circles so much?
Tim is a proud, vetted, and experienced dog foster carer for a charity helping dog owners escape domestic abuse.
He has years of experience training and caring for dogs, both his own and other people’s.
He is an expert in canine behavior and is highly skilled in dealing with all dogs but specializes in the difficult ones that other people may struggle with.
When he isn’t fostering dogs, he is making friends with other people’s pups!