Working at home has been a good experience for many of us. Especially those of us who are lucky enough to have a constant canine companion to help ease the feeling of isolation.
But as the nation starts to open up again, we have yet another issue to address.
How to make sure our pets don’t go through severe separation anxiety.
Dogs are very social creatures and love just hanging out with their people. Being the center of your pooch’s universe might have been fun while it lasted, but now reality is setting back in and you need to understand how to diagnose true distress versus attention-getting behavior.
“Anxiety” can happen when you’re no longer around 24/7 like you have been these last few months. Your dog might be anxious – but they also may be feeling frightened or nervous.
Not all dogs will suffer true anxiety when you return to the office – but know that 20-40 percent of all dog behavior issues seen by experts stem from this ailment. Thankfully, there is a wide range of ways to treat the issue. It’s good to be proactive and to know what you might be dealing with and how to diagnose the issue.
Separation anxiety normally happens within 30 minutes after your departure. Anxiety in your fur friend can manifest as behavior problems including:
- Chewing, digging and property destruction
- Barking, whining, and howling
- Pacing, panting and restlessness
- Attempting to escape
- Ignoring food
- Undesirable bathroom habits
- Destroying doors, walls, and points of entry
But, before you jump to any conclusions, it’s best to see your vet and make sure these negative responses aren’t caused by boredom or a medical issue. These events may also be an attention-seeking behavior so a trained professional might help put your mind at ease or be able to provide training options to help eliminate the problem.
Also know this: breeds like cockers, labs, and shepherds are more prone to developing separation anxiety.
There are a few things to remember when you are dealing with canine anxiety problems:
- Punishment is NEVER the answer
- TEACH your dog to be independent. STAY and WAIT commands will help.
- Use a pet camera that they can hear your voice and you can monitor their activity
- Use a crate
- Change up the “going away” signal (use a different door, etc.)
- Make sure they get plenty of exercise
- Leave a TV or radio on
- Do not sleep with your dog in your bed
- Slowly increase the time you are away
- Hire a trainer to work with your animal
- Be calm upon your return – don’t cause overexcitement
- Creative positive actions associated with leaving – give them a treat, play a few minutes after putting on a coat or picking up your bag
- Ask your vet for help if the issues are chronic or severe
- Consider doggy daycare a couple of times a week
Nancy Murphy, a XX year veteran in dog care and owner of A Dogs World, offers this advice, “We’ve seen anxiety in some of the dogs who have boarded with us over the years. But within a short period of time, once we get them engaged in activities with us or other dogs, the problems usually stop. Just like people, sometimes it takes others to bring out the best in your fur baby. We LOVE that we can help with that!”