Separation Anxiety Tips For Dog Owners Going Back to Work

Due to COVID-19, many people have found themselves stuck at home for weeks. Working from home and staying in on the weekends has become the norm. Many people have decided to adopt or foster a dog during this time too which is lovely! Most dogs have loved the extra attention, walks and time inside with their family, I know my fur baby has. But can all this extra love and time together come with a cost?

Separation anxiety is stressful for both you and your pup and can be brought on by a variety of things including a change of owner, home or a massive change in daily schedule such as the changes that COVID-19 may have had in your life. Separation anxiety shows in your pup’s behaviours and emotions. Signs your dog can exhibit include destructive behaviours like digging and destroying furniture, etc, crying, howling, barking, escaping your home, pacing and not eating. 

*Please note the below tips are for mild separation anxiety only. If this behaviour continues, your dog is harming themselves or has moderate to severe separation anxiety, please consult with your vet as soon as possible. 

To help alleviate separation anxiety, we are trying to teach our dog how to enjoy being alone, or at the least, tolerate it. If you know you’re going back to work in the next couple of weeks, now is the time to start changing your fur baby’s routine so that they are more comfortable being on their own again.

Give your pet some alone time when you’re home

It can be very cute having your new colleague sitting on your lap or next to you while you work all day, but you should start introducing some separate time during your day. Leave your pup outside for a bit with their favourite toy or some hidden treats or in another part of your house to have a nap.

Go out without your pup & don’t make it a big deal

If you need to go out for essentials, leave your dog at home. Don’t make a big show of leaving or coming back. Give them a quick pat and say goodbye. When you return don’t hype them up more and get all excited yourself. Wait until they calm down and then you can give them a pat hello. 

Extend the time you leave them alone incrementally 

Start out by leaving your dog for five minutes before returning home, increase the amount of time slowly throughout the coming weeks until you build up to around 8 hours (or however long they have to be alone during any given day)

Take your dog for a walk before you go to work

Try waking up a bit earlier and taking your dog for a morning run or walk before you have to leave for work. This will get out any pent up energy and hopefully, they will spend the afternoon enjoying a well deserved snooze alone

Give your dog canine company

If your dog gets along with other dogs, you could take them to Doggy Day Care a few days a week, hire a dog walker to give them some afternoon exercise or leave them with a friend’s dog while you’re at work. Or perhaps if you have the resources and want, get your pup a brother or sister so they can keep each other company all the time!

Keep them mentally stimulated 

Are you walking your dog enough and giving them enough stimulation throughout the day? Keep your dog well exercised and give them fun things to do while you are gone. Some ideas could be a big bone, hide treats around your home or backyard or a Kong toy stuffed with long lasting treats. If you have a working dog, such as a border collie, they need extra mental stimulation like agility classes. 

Follow the link for more tips and information on separation anxiety in dogs.

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