This year in Saugus has brought on many changes in the way we live, and these changes have not gone unnoticed by our beloved pets. Since the start of quarantine back at the end of March, when it seemed like the world came to a stop, dogs all over the world experienced a huge increase in time spent with their families. We joked that this was the happiest time in their lives! We laughed at the cartoons that depicted an owner grabbing their dogs leash and gearing up to head out for their 10th walk of the day while their dog just stared at them wide-eyed as if to say, “Dear Lord, please no, I’m exhausted!”. Although no doubt, our pups had a wonderful time getting loved on 24/7, it is time to explore how we can set them up for a successful transition as more and more of us return to work. Today, we are talking about separation anxiety in dogs.
While we typically think of puppies who cry whenever their human is out of sight, separation anxiety can present itself in different ways. It could look like barking, whining, excessive drooling, or destructive behaviors. For the sake of your neighbors, your furniture, and most importantly – your dog’s mental wellbeing, let’s take a look at some basic things we need to begin doing now in order to prepare our pups as we begin to return to our normal routines:
- Pick a location in your home where your dog feels and can be safe. This might look like a crate or a doggy-proofed room. Let them spend time here alone even when you are home so it doesn’t always predict your exit.
- When you leave them alone, give them a food-dispensing toy such as a kong or a very special treat that they love!
- Build up the time your dog spends alone gradually. We don’t just want to throw them in the deep end! Begin with 1 minute and work your way up! Make the amount of time you leave them random. If you just had to leave them for 2 hours today, plan another session but only leave them for 30 seconds!
- Only allow your dog out of their crate or their room when they have been quiet for 5-10 seconds. If you let them out when they are in the middle of barking, it will reinforce the barking.
- Keep your exits and entrances calm. It is hard! I know! It may actually be harder to train the other human members of your household though…I am still trying to train my husband and will happily accept any tricks you might have for me!
- Practice your ritual of leaving the house without actually leaving. Grab your keys and put on your coat. While these things normally would predict your exit, do something else! Have a snuggle on the couch with your pup, begin a training session, or grab a toy and engage them!
- As always, make sure your dog has gotten adequate exercise and mental stimulation before expecting them to chill out alone for long stretches of time!
We hope you found our tips helpful in easing the transition back to work. If you are feeling like your dog is having a hard time or is already displaying signs of separation anxiety, please consult a certified dog behaviorist or have the team here at DGGT help with a mid-day walk or hike to help!