How to prevent post ‘covid-19’ lockdown separation anxiety in our dogs

It is an inevitable part of this current lockdown coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis, that are dogs are spending more time than ever with us. I am sure for many this is seen as a bonus, or a benefit during these uncertain times. Having an emotional connection with a beloved pet can be a life saver when we are scared or feeling low. Dogs are intelligent but it is highly unlikely that they know why you are around so much at the moment.  But it is likely they are loving all the attention. However, once the lockdown is over there is a risk some dogs will suffer from separation anxiety when we return to our normal working routines. Separation anxiety can be extremely distressing for dogs.

Signs of separation anxiety can include 

  • barking
  • whining
  • excessive drooling
  • accidents in the house

Destructive behavior

  • self-harming
  • making holes in the walls
  • breaking doors

True separation anxiety in dogs is comparable to panic attacks in people. Even if your dog has previously been happy to be left during the day whilst you are at work, the transition back to a ‘normal’ routine may be a difficult transition for them. Going from being in constant daily company to little or no company may be difficult.

Here are my top tips to help reduce the risk of separation anxiety

Try your hardest not to overindulge your dog. I know, what you must be thinking that I am a heartless. Honestly, I am not. I love nothing more than cuddling both my dogs. But creating over dependence will hinder your dogs’ emotional wellbeing when it is time for things to go back to normal!  Try keeping to a relatively normal routine of walks, play and cuddles and they will not notice it so much when you go back to work.

  • Do not be tempted to give your dog far more attention than you would in a normal day.
  • Try to stick to a routine. As much as possible to that of a normal day. Such as feeding, walking and bedtimes.
  • Ensure your dog is given opportunity to have quiet time during the day. If your dog is crate trained use their crate.
  • If you have a dog walker try to stick to their usual walking schedule.
  • Encourage your dog to settle in their bed whilst you work from home. – this may start Initially by your feet, but gradually you can move the bed further away from you. Make sure you reward your dog for staying in its bed. Eventually aim for the bed to be in another room, with the door closed. Even if its for a short period of time.
  • Spend time in another room away from your dog.
  • Spend time in the garden and your dog inside.
  • If it is possible to leave your dog at home, in the house for short periods of time. Ideally at least once a day of ten minutes.
  • Leave some background noise on for your dog whilst you are gone. Either the radio, or TV.
  • Use self-reinforcing activities that do not involve you, such as stuffed Kongs to lick at, and toys that the dog can play with by themselves. These can be bought toys or homemade toys.