All that extra time at home brought on by the pandemic has resulted in a different pattern for pet parents. And our dogs have noticed. This way of life will not last forever, so it would be a good idea to start preparing for times when you will have less time. The objective, of course, is to prevent pets from suffering a degree of separation anxiety.
At Henderson Pet Resort, a five-star / 24-hour facility in Henderson, Nevada, Owner Leslea Villigan is sympathetic to the current situation that affects dogs of all ages. She says, “From covid puppies to senior dogs, having pet parents home during this pandemic we’re all seeing the adverse side effects of separation anxiety.”
As your schedule starts to shift with work, school, or other out-of-home demands, start preparing your pet for some separation. You can start creating a smooth transition so your dog won’t have a negative reaction to new demands on your new life that mean more alone time for doggie.
Develop a routine that is predictable for your pet to help reduce anxiety. Make daily exercise and playtimes, work and mealtimes more structured. While this schedule doesn’t need to be strict, you do want to establish a sense of a predictable routine. Here are some ways to start easing into a lifestyle with more separation between you and your pets.
Create a schedule for feeding that will work when you return to a job or school. Making sure there is a routine where your dog is aware that food is coming and that they have not been abandoned without a meal in their future. This will greatly reduce stress and maybe even save a nice pair of shoes or furniture in your house.
Take time for exercise, making sure that your dog is getting enough outdoor time every day. Plan ahead to take the time to give your pet the amount of exercise needed for their age before they are left alone. Not using this outlet can lead to pent-up energy that could be misdirected on your home and household items (watch those slippers). A tired dog is generally a well-behaved dog.
Add physical separation between you and your dog during work and school hours so your pup learns that not getting nonstop attention is okay. Remember to start in small increments of time apart. For example, take a walk to the end of the block, come back and check on doggie or close yourself off in a room for 10 to 15 minutes and then check again. When things seem good, add additional time to each break.
Make sure there’s entertainment while you are away. Have toys out in a space for the dog to keep your pet occupied while you are gone. If your pet destroys soft toys, put those away when you cannot monitor chewing. Keep the toys in a space away from shoes or other items that could easily confuse them about what is and is not a toy while a pet is playing alone.
Watch the signs that your pet is giving you while they are having more time alone. Although most signs of separation anxiety happen while you are away, they can also happen when you are around, too. Some of these signs of separation anxiety can include:
- Peeing in the house
- Panting and/or pacing
- Excessive barking
- Ripping things apart and other destructive behavior
- Not eating their food or treats
If your pet is showing signs of anxiety, don’t punish your dog. Avoid treating the behavior as something bad, but reduce the amount of time you leave them alone. Being alone is new to them, especially if a new puppy that has never really experienced this. Some pets will have no problem with these adjustments, while other dogs might need to take baby steps…or puppy steps in this case.
Doggie Day Care
Are you overwhelmed or stressed thinking about this transition or just need help? There is a wonderful solution that will make you and your pooch happy—doggie day care from your local pet care facility. You can get help and keep your pal with four on the floor happy and put pep in their step even with your busy schedule by dropping them off at doggie day care. Not only does this help with your busy schedule, but it provides additional exercise, stimulation, and training that can help you at home.
As long as you ease into the transition, watch for signs of discomfort, and get help from doggie day care and overnight boarding when you need it, this is sure to be a smooth transition time for you and your pet.