Lock down has been challenging for all of us but one of the undisputed positives has been the luxury of spending more time with your pet. Unless, of course, you have a cat because we both know they are not amused!
But as lock down draws to a close and we find ourselves (insert platitude here) in the midst of our ‘new normal’ your dog may find themselves suddenly alone for potentially prolonged periods of time and they may struggle to adapt. Even dogs who have previously coped with being alone during the day may not cope as this will seem like a massive and sudden change to them, the party is over!
Your dog may develop separation anxiety. Separation anxiety is a behavioural term for when dogs become stressed and frantic whenever they are left home alone. This dislike of being alone harks back to the days before domestication when dogs thrived being part of a pack. A dog’s mentality is still the same and they are more content when you are at home with them so the ‘pack’ is together. Dogs can experience separation anxiety to varying levels depending on their breed and previous experiences, so for example, a rescue pooch may be more anxious you are not returning due to having been abandoned before.
What can canine separation anxiety look like?
- Increased or excess panting or salivating
- Increased heart rate or over breathing
- Increased vocalisation such as howling or barking
- Destructive behaviour such as chewing furniture or scratching walls or doors
- Sudden urinating or defecating indoors
Such displays of anxiety can be very distressing for both us and our beloved dogs so here are some tips to help reduce the risk of separation anxiety:
- If you have been giving your dog lots of attention during the day start to gradually reduce that so the dog isn’t looking for your interaction during ‘office hours’.
- Starting with just a few minutes leave your dog alone in a designated area (as you would if going to work) for increasing periods of time, you could leave them with a chew toy to help calm them down. When you come back into the room don’t make a fuss of your dog, this needs to feel normal. This exercise will encourage your dog to feel confident when left alone.
You can find out more about dog anxiety here. If you are suddenly returning to work with no time to encourage your dog to adjust to separation then you could consider hiring a regular dog walker or a more short term solution would be to hire one of our professional Animal Aunts who could step in to look after your dog and train them to cope with separation anxiety.
Drop us an email if you would like to find out more about our Day Sitting Services.
Our wonderful dogs have probably really helped some of us cope with these very difficult times now it’s our turn to return the favour and help them adjust to not being with you every minute of the day.