Back to the office means back to being alone for Fido.
The last 18 months have been stressful in every way--unless you happen to be a dog. In that case, they've been nirvana. Four walks a day instead of two. Snuggling for hours on the couch. Boxes of toys and treats coming to the door. So as more and more companies are bringing workers back to the office for pre-COVID hours, our best buds are in for an unpleasant shock. Dog separation anxiety is a real thing, and it can be pretty hard on your pooch.
That's especially true if they were adopted during the pandemic, and thus don't know life without you at their side.
Separation anxiety in dogs is a real thing, and it has noticeable signs. Here's how to know if your dog has separation anxiety, according to Sarah-Anne Reed, consulting holistic dog trainer for Healthy Paws Pet Insurance:
- Increased barking can be an obvious behavior change. When a dog's anxiety is triggered, they're more likely to be alert for other dangers. It's natural for them to bark more when their fear is elevated.
- Your dog may be hesitant to go outside to do their business, especially if you yourself seem stressed about the impending change. He'll need extra reassurance that whatever the 'danger' is that he's sensing isn't too close. You can comfort him by stepping outside first.
- Your dog may lunge or pull on the leash, leading you back home.
If you suspect your pet might be suffering from separation anxiety, your first move is to make a quick call to your vet. He'll be able to advise whether what you're seeing could be a sign of another condition, and offer suggestions either way. Of course, you play an important part too. Here's how to help your dog with separation anxiety, says Dr. Tammie Pearce, Director of Veterinary Science for AskVet:
1. Avoid a sudden change in your routine.
Instead, consider short trips away from home, maybe 10 minutes at first and working up to a few hours. If your dog is really nervous, you might try leaving him with a Calmeroos. Ideal for puppies, the heartbeat sound and warming pad soothes skittish older dogs too.
2. Have your pup spend time in their kennel when you're home.
Otherwise, he will equate it with being alone and resist using it. Kindtail Pawd Collapsible Dog Crate is airy and modern-looking. It'll be extra comfy when you add a cushy pad, like Frisco's Mocha Swirl Dog Crate Mat. Large breed dogs will have room to relax comfortably in the Frisco XXL Heavy Duty Dog Crate, which comes with a quilted bolster pad.
3. Leave familiar music playing when you leave.
Any genre that you normally listen to at home, on low volume, is fine. Or you can check out iCalmPet's 16 hours worth of clinically tested music to ease dog separation anxiety.
4. Provide some distractions.
5. Give your pet a treat when hanging out at home, as well as when you leave for work.
This way the treat is not associated with impending solitude. Try Full Moon Organic Dog Treats for human quality treats in a dog approved package.
6. Vary your morning routine.
For example, don't always pick up your keys as you walk out the door. Instead, pick up the keys and carry them around for a while, then put them back without leaving. Pets can pick up on these little cues quickly, so being a bit unpredictable helps manage anxiety. You might also try a supplement specifically made for anxious dogs. Petlab Co.'s Total Calm Chicken Flavor Chews is one highly-reviewed option suitable for all ages of dogs.
7. Play it cool.
It may feel counterintuitive, but don't give your pet long, affectionate goodbyes.
8. Delay the evening greeting.
When you get home, don't immediately let your pet out of his kennel or whatever area he is in. Instead, calmly put your things away, waiting for your pup to settle down before the hugs and slobbery kisses start.
9. Consider a video camera.
You'll be able to keep your vet informed of any worrisome changes in behavior if you're able to see how your fur baby is handling the new structure of his day. It'll also help you keep from worrying too much. The Furbo Dog Camera is a great option that offers a real-time 1080p full HD live stream from your mobile device. And it even tosses treats!
What's your favorite way to curb your dog's anxiety? Share with us on the Wide Open Pets Facebook page!
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