The signs shown by 96 dogs recovering at home after day-case soft tissue operations were assessed by their owners for three days. On the day of the operation there were behavioural changes in all the animals, but by two days after the operation changes in behaviour were detected in only 85 per cent of them. The most common changes were in the dogs' demeanour and their way of moving; there were decreases in overall activity and playfulness, and increases in contact seeking. The dogs also showed signs of pain: the highest ratings were observed on the day of the operation, when the median value on a visual analogue scale from 0 to 100 mm was 43 mm, with a range from 0 to 95 mm. The type of operation significantly affected the signs observed.