Every dog owner knows that leaving for work can be melodramatic, as dogs often cry and beg for their humans to stay. That’s why many people sneak off without saying goodbye to their pups, worried that the moment will only cause more stress. But according to science, not acknowledging your dog might do more harm than help.

A study published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior in 2018 says that gently petting your pup before departing for work can help ease their anxiety, proving that human contact can help decrease a dog’s level of stress.

In the experiment, owners were asked to leave their dogs twice — the first separation involved cuddling their pet and the second separation without — to see if it modified the dog’s behavior and physiology. The researchers, meanwhile, monitored heart rates and increases in drool, which can indicate a canine’s anxiety level.

The result revealed that petting led to calmer behaviors while the dogs waited for their humans’ return, as well as a lower heart rate after the reunion.

“This pilot study suggests that petting a dog before a brief separation from the owner may have a positive effect, making the dog calmer during the separation itself,” the paper reads, adding that further research hopes to determine if the gesture could also help those with severe separation anxiety.

So there you have it. Before departing home, don’t forget your wallet, phone, keys, and most importantly, don’t forget to hug, cuddle, belly-rub, and smooch your pooch.