For dogs across the nation, 2020 has been THE BEST YEAR EVER! They have heard so much of “oh, that’s a big stretch”, “who wants a biscuit?” and “walkies!”, they’ve enjoyed extra cuddles, lazy mornings and definitely more treats!
So what happens when we return to work?
It is possible that this long period of time we have spent with our dogs could cause them to become anxious and worried when we leave them, and they could possibly start to show behaviours known as ‘separation anxiety’.
How do I know if my dog has separation anxiety?
Common signs when they are left alone include:
1. Destruction of bedding, furniture carpets or belongings
2. Inappropriate toileting indoors
3. Barking, whining or being vocal
4. Pacing or being restless
5. Attempting to escape
It is also possible for your dog to not show any of these signs, but still become depressed and do nothing at all when you leave the house.
It’s very difficult to know how dogs will behave when their owners return to their normal routine and every dog may react differently. If you are concerned, perhaps consider investing in a pet camera – this can give you a good idea of how they are feeling when you are away from home.
What can affect separation anxiety in dogs?
1. Their genetics
3. Previous negative experiences
4. Missing out on important training as a puppy
Separation-related problems are extremely common in dogs, and with the lockdown allowing us to have spent this long period of time with our beloved pups, it could actually have made the problem worse for when they do have to be left alone again!
Puppies need to be taught when they’re young that it’s OK to be on their own and have a little bit of independence from their owners. If you are now the proud dog mum/dad of a ‘Pandemic Puppy’ and are still home a lot at the moment, then it would be a good idea to start leaving your puppy in another room for part of the day, so they can get used to you not being there all the time.
What can I do to help my dog settle when I leave?
1. Leave them alone for periods of time whilst you are in the house – start by leaving them for short periods of time, then build up the time gradually to ease the transition i.e go into a different room or to the garden/do a short food shop. Remember to reward them if they stay calm and relaxed whilst you are gone.
2. Create a place for your dog to go to that makes them feel safe.
3. Use feeding puzzles -this will keep them entertained and teach them that good things happen when you leave.
4. Leave the radio on or try a Pet Playlist on Spotify.
5. Ensure you have someone to walk your dog while you are gone all day.
6. Plan your morning routine – rushing and panicking affects your pets too!
The best thing for them (and you) is to ensure your dog follows a comforting routine – start to prepare your dog now, before you need to leave them for any length of time.
Top Tip: Your dog may feel more settled after a morning walk or if they are left with something to do. If you’re going to be out for a long period of time make sure you have arranged for your trusted Digs for Dogs Dog Walker to come and take them out for a run.