Going back to work and leaving pup at home – tips for tackling separation anxiety. COVID-19 has been great for our dogs. They’ve received more attention, more walks, and more treats! So how are they going to handle life after ISO? It’s bad enough for the dogs who knew life before social distancing and working from home.
But what about the dogs adopted during the pandemic? The ones who have only ever known their new pack members as homebodies. While we can’t reason with them in our language, there are still things we can do to help them adjust. Walk them before work Walking helps to rid your pup of some of their physical vigour, as well as their mental energy. A walk is like reading a Facebook feed for dogs as they process all the distinct smells. So when your dog stops for a sniff on the walk, let them. But if they want to keep walking, let them do that too. Don’t fuss over your dog when you leave or when you get home. Not fussing over your dog when you come and go communicates to them that the time apart is no big deal. Even saying goodbye is a no-no; simply leave. And definitely, no attention when you get home until they are calm and relaxed. But do leave them treats Leave a handful of treats on the ground, and while the dog is eating them—leave. If you spread the treats out, by the time your dog has finished finding them all, you’ll be long gone.
Dogs are social animals, and being with the pack provides them with safety and security. Subsequently, being left behind by important pack members can create fear, anxiety, and uncertainty. It is up to us to make the situation less stressful for them. Make a safe "den" to leave your dog in. Whether it’s a crate or an entire spare room, a safe space (or “den”) makes your dog feel safe and protected.
If you are going to crate your dog, though, make sure to do it properly. You must train them to use it, which takes time. Ease your dog into being home alone. Leave your dog alone for 5 minutes, then extend that time to 10, 15, and so on.
Eventually, you should be able to leave them for a full eight hours without any issues. This will take some time to incorporate, but it is well worth the effort. Entertain them Provide your dog with a puzzle toy that uses their brain to extract treats. Podcasts or audiobooks can also help to lessen separation anxiety in dogs. There are even YouTube channels with music compilations specifically designed to help relax your pooch.
Get professional help If your dog isn’t adapting to being home alone, hiring a professional dog trainer may be a consideration. They help you communicate with your pup in ways they can understand. And they can give your dog the confidence they need to be more independent.