Separation anxiety during COVID-19 Lockdown
The world has been through a lot recently. 'Normal' for most was getting up 5 days a week, heading out the door to work, being away from home all day, then back at night. Our dogs were used to this routine and often you could swear they knew when it was the weekend and you'd be home for a couple of days!
Then things changed. Adults home from work, kids home from school, activity happening throughout the day that our dogs weren't used to. During lock-down you may have noticed your dog's behaviour change when all of a sudden the humans were at home most of the time. You see, dogs like routine and suddenly that 'normal' routine was turned on its head.
Fast forward to mid-2020, the new 'normal' may still look different from the past, however people are back to leaving the house, being away from home most of the day, then back at night. This has meant yet another change in routine and there are a lot of dogs who are struggling with this change.
At K9 FUNdamentals we've been having a lot of conversations recently with dog owners about how to ease their dog into this change. So, we thought we'd share some tips and tricks:
If you're still working from home or just doing a few hours back at the office, then take this opportunity to start your dog getting used to you being away from home. Pop your dog into a different part of the house with something to keep them amused. Give them the opportunity to be alone for short periods of time while you're actually still at home yourself.
Dogs love routines. You may not have noticed but you have a daily routine when you leave the house. It could be the jingle of the keys, closing the windows, putting your shoes by the door - your dog will know your routine. Time to start adopting that routine again. Get your dog used to the build up of you leaving the house before you actually have to leave for a long period of time.
The other part of routine is to make sure your dog is still in their daily routine. Meals, sleep time, playtime, walks or car rides. If they know what to expect then they're more likely to be relaxed about it.
Start to develop your leaving routine (as mentioned above) and go out for short periods of time to start with. This lets your dog get used to being alone for short bursts, knowing that you'll be coming back. Gradually stretch out the length of time you're away.
Keep your dog occupied
Surprisingly when we're away from home our dogs spend a lot of time sleeping. However, during the times that you are away throughout the day it's a good idea to give your dog things to keep them amused. This can be anything from some toys to play with, a puzzle to do, having the TV or radio on, something to chew on. As long as it's safe to leave your dog alone with the item, give them something to focus on rather than noticing you're not there.
Ask for help
If you notice that your dog has developed unwanted behaviours while you are preparing to leave the house or while you're away from the house, ask for help from a certified dog trainer or behaviourist. Your dog is trying to tell you that they're not comfortable with this routine change. They're not being naughty; they're trying to communicate with you.