Our pets have all LOVED having us home more, but what happens to them when we go back to work? Will they suffer from separation anxiety and loneliness?
Getting Your Pet Used to Life After Quarantine
Our sweet fur babies have all cherished having us home during quarantine. Especially if you’ve been able to work from home this entire time—your sweet pup or kitten has probably gotten very used to this “new normal.” But if you’re going to head back to the office soon, your little fur ball may not be ready for the change.
I actually started to notice my dogs showing signs of separation anxiety pretty soon after quarantine started. I didn’t realize how attached they were becoming to the idea of me working from home. And now anytime I leave the house and return—my pups freak out way more when I get home than they ever did before.
Signs & Symptoms of Dog Separation Anxiety
If you’re not sure whether your dog struggles with separation anxiety, here’s a list of some pretty common signs and symptoms. Of course—always contact your vet with any concerns you may have. Especially if your pet’s symptoms become severe.
- Destructive behavior → chewing up furniture, rugs, shoes, etc.
- Obsessive licking → this could be allergies or anxiety.
- Barking, howling, and whimpering when you leave → especially if it continues while you’re gone.
- Abnormal accidents in the house → from a dog who is already potty-trained.
- Scratching at the doors and windows → from a dog who is already trained not to do this.
Keep in mind, we are talking about your pet randomly starting these behaviors. If they existed prior to quarantine, they could still be rooted in anxiety. But they could also be habits of a puppy who hasn’t been trained yet. Or even a dog who needs some extra run around time to get all of their crazy energy out.
How to Reduce Anxiety in Dogs
If you do notice separation anxiety symptoms, or you’re worried they will start when you head back to the office, we’ve compiled a list of 6 easy ways to prepare your dog for life after quarantine.
1. Keep Things Calm
Anxiety can be triggered by a big traumatic event, or “the build up of smaller stressful life situations.” This doesn’t just apply to humans—it happens to our pets too. And keeping things calm and peaceful at home can help alleviate some of the stress for your pet. You could even teach them to relax in a special spot like a pet bed with a comforting toy or blanket.
2. Take Time Apart Little by Little
It’s helpful to let your pet get used to you being away by leaving the house a little more and more—even if it’s just for 15-30 minutes at a time. And when you do leave, try not to make a big deal about it. Just calmly leave because your pet can sense your emotions.
3. Stick to a Regular Schedule
Once you do go back to the office, try to keep a normal departure and return schedule. This way your pet will begin to realize when you leave, that you will return.
4. Provide Your Pet with Distractions
A great way to keep your dog from feeling anxious and lonely is by giving them a distraction. You could buy them a long-lasting chew stick or a “food puzzle.” You could even put some peanut butter in a KONG, and freeze it so it takes longer for your dog to lick out. You can check out a ton of great KONG recipes here.
5. Sign-Up for Dog Training & Structured Daycare Programs
If the above ideas don’t work, your pup may need some training from a professional to help correct the behavior. Or maybe they need a little extra love and attention at a doggy daycare while you’re at work.
6. Crate Training
I don’t love crating a dog, but sometimes it’s necessary. Even if it’s just in the meantime while you’re working on these other methods. And if you think your dog has made some progress, start with taking short trips away from the house again while they are out of the crate.
Keep an Eye on Your Pup
You may wonder how your dog is doing while you’re gone at work. Is your pooch actually up and moving around—playing with toys and food puzzles? Or is he just laying in one spot all day, feeling depressed? Maybe he is up and moving, but a little too much because he’s feeling anxious.
You can actually keep an eye on your dog’s movements and physical activity by using a GPS Smart Collar. These smart collars are not only good for finding a lost dog, but they actually keep track of your canine’s physical activity and steps each day. This will help you watch for patterns in your dog’s behavior while you’re gone.