If you have been home a lot lately and are now preparing to return to a life that involves leaving the house, your dogs might really miss you. Instead of returning to their old normal, they might experience separation anxiety even if they never did before. Here are some tips for dealing with it:
- Consider how much your changes in lifestyle have involved your dog and how much your dog is likely to be affected. The more your dog has been the center of your life while you have been home, the more likely it is that he will experience separation anxiety now that you leave. If you are a recent adopter, your dog might not even know that you once had a routine that involved going out.
- To the extent possible, change your routine gradually. Try leaving your dog home alone for just a few minutes, then a half hour, and then maybe an hour, until you reach the duration you need to be gone more regularly. If you run into separation anxiety issues, start over and keep taking small steps.
- When you leave and return, don’t make a big fuss that will reinforce your dog’s feelings that it is a big deal. Act like it is just routine and you’ll be right back.
- Before you leave, make sure your dog is well exercised and fed so that he can relax without expectations.
- Put everything your dog might get into away or up high. Don’t leave food out on the counters. Don’t leave shoes sitting out on the floor. If your dog does suffer anxiety, make sure that whatever he can get into isn’t potentially harmful.
- If your dog will have access to a yard via a dog door, make sure your fence and gate are secure before you go. An anxious dog is more likely to exploit any escape routes available.
- Leave a radio or TV on tuned to something soothing. Close doors and windows to keep potentially frightening or exciting noises out. Make sure your dog has a comfortable bed, blanket or toy that he is used to having around.
- Canine daycare or a visit from a dog walker, even if it isn’t every day, can help your dog feel more okay when you’re away.
- As a last resort, consider whether your pet may need medication, whether a natural product or a prescription one. Be cautious of claims of efficacy and safety from some over-the-counter, ” natural” products, as there are many which don’t work or could actually be harmful to your pet.
We hope you and your dogs all adjust to our new normal easily and that your new normal continues to include your dogs as much as possible!