Separation anxiety occurs when a dog shows physical, physiological or behavioural signs of distress in the absence of people or a person.
With the increased contact our dogs are having with humans at the moment, they are at higher risk of developing anxiety when we go back to work. Luckily, there are simple strategies we can use to prevent this happening.
Creating a routine of getting up at the same time every day, exercising and feeding your dog and most importantly during lockdown- have some time away from your dog, every day. Even if that means they are out in the garden or another part of the house.
Encouragement of independent play is important. Food scatter games, puzzles and kongs can be introduced during lockdown so you can help your dog figure out the puzzle if needed, and then start to give them when leaving the dog to keep his mind occupied.
Departure cues (putting on your shoes, picking up the keys, kissing your significant other goodbye) can be red flags for dogs- you can practise doing these throughout the day so the dog learns you aren’t necessarily leaving.
Don’t confine your animal when you go back to work unless they are used to being confined- this can be really scary! Crating can be a great tool for allowing your dog space to rest from the family while teaching them to be independent, however alone time/crating should be introduced gradually, and should be a pleasant experience for the dog. Set up the crate so there is a comfortable bed, and give them food puzzles/ toys to occupy them.
Set up a toileting schedule so that there is a routine- often it is easiest when home to leave the door open and let the dog wander in and out to do their business, but if they are used to this they may have accidents when we return to work.
Don’t make a fuss about leaving and greet your dog calmly when you get home. Reinforce calm behaviour with attention and ignore any frantic jumping or licking!
Keep up with the exercise routine- if you’ve increased your dogs exercise during lockdown, don’t drastically reduce it when you return to work. Try and find a new balance that works for you and your dog.
These things will help ease your dog back into his usual routine and should help prevent any anxiety about being left alone, but every dog is different so contact us if you and your dog need any more help with the process.
The Anexa Team