As we look to easing of the lockdown, we’re all breathing a sigh of relief. Our dogs, however, may not feel the same way.
They are going to be confused and anxious when things change and we go back to work. Some may even become very distressed and develop separation anxiety.
They have been with us constantly for some time now and some will never have had us at home for so long before. Even during normal holiday time we would often go out an leave them behind for an hour or two, but we’ve not been able to do that recently. We’ve played with them, cuddled them and entertained them at a frequency many have never known before, and this has become their new normal.
It’s going to be really important to our dogs mental heath that we don’t just go back to our normal routine of leaving them alone for hours at a time straight away post-lockdown. We need to prepare them for the change to their lives otherwise separation anxiety could become a really big problem for everyone. Barking, howling, chewing, voiding of bowels and/or bladder and extreme distress are just some of the problems associated with separation anxiety. No one wants their beloved pet to go through this unnecessary stress so we need to do something, now.
So how can you help your dog ? It’s quite simple really begin these ideas now .
- Begin to leave your dog on his or her own for short periods, even if this is in a different room in the house. Start with a few minutes and build up the time over a few days. If you are working from home you will probably benefit from the lack of distraction too!
- Don’t make a fuss of your dog when you return to them, simply do whatever you were going to do. Making a fuss reinforces any minor stress your dog may have felt, increasing their stress levels next time you leave them.
- Go to the toilet on your own! Dogs often follow us around the house so shutting the door on them for a few minutes will help teach them they can’t do that all the time.
- Give them some alone time with a Kong or food puzzle to keep them entertained. Make sure you can still see them to make sure they’re safe.
- Don’t ask them to sit with you when you watch TV. Give them a comfy bed on the other side of the room and encourage them to lie there instead.
- Allow them to do their own thing – if they wander off to a different room, let them, unless you think they are up to something naughty.
- Dogs love routine so get into the habit of feeding, walking, playing, alone time and other activities at a similar time each day. Keep the timing and activities similar to what your ‘normal’ working routine might be.
We hope this information has been useful to you. If you need further advice, please get in touch. Separation anxiety is a very distressing condition which can be very difficult to manage so we want you and your pooches to avoid it at all costs.
You can find out more about separation anxiety at www.dogstrust.org.uk/help-advice/training/what-to-do-if-your-dog-is-anxious-when-theyre-left-alone