Over the last few months dog owners may have been at home a lot more than usual, spending quality time with their pets. As lockdown restrictions ease, some people may have returned to their usual daily routines or be looking to in the near future. This could result in some dogs experiencing separation anxiety after having their owners around the home for longer periods of time.
Dogs can experience anxiety and stress from time to time for many reasons but one of the biggest causes is a disruption to their routine. Not only will dogs have had their routine disrupted at the start of lockdown but they now face the same problem as their owners begin to go about their lives again.
It can be hard to know if your dog is experiencing separation anxiety as a lot of the signs can occur when you are apart, like howling or barking, urinating or defecating in the house, and chewing objects and furniture. However, there are ways you can prepare your dog for life after lockdown and ensure the transition is as smooth as can be.
Slowly change your routine
Your dog needs to get used to not being around you all the time so slowly begin to change the daily routine by leaving your dog in another room of the house for short periods of time. Try to slowly increase the time you are apart and when you return to the room, remember to give your dog a treat. By doing this each day, it will help reduce the stress when you return to a normal routine.
Monitor your dog through a pet camera
Setting up a video camera allows you to check in on your dog and can alert you to when they are distressed or barking via a smartphone app. Some pet cameras include a treat dispenser so you can reward your pooch, and some offer a two-way speaker so you can talk to your dog if they are howling or pacing around the room. Hearing your voice may help calm them down but in some cases it can confuse the dog if they think you’re home, so if this happens disable this function.
Create a safe space for your dog
Having a space of their own within the home will help your dog when they feel anxious or stressed. This could be a den with items such as their favourite toy or a piece of clothing with your scent on it, which can provide comfort to them in your absence. Be sure to leave a chew toy or a dog puzzle which will keep them occupied and help pass the time. Having something to help stimulate their mind will allow them to stay focused, rather than wondering when their owner will return home.
As you return to a normal routine your dog may not be as affected by separation anxiety and may adjust to life after lockdown pretty well, but it’s best to have some preparation in place beforehand to limit any anxious feelings. By following these tips, you can help manage your dog’s stress levels and adapt easily to a new routine.