Do you often worry about how you will leave your dog home alone when your normal work-life would resume? Does your dog always stay with you and spends no time alone?
Staying at home might be a tough time for us during the Coronavirus pandemic but it surely has been a treat for our dogs. Seeing their owners around every time. More hours of play and endless snacks. Our pets are getting all the attention and affection of us from the past few months.
But, times are changing and our lives will soon be ‘back to normal’. We will have to return to our normal work routines and we might not stay at home just like we used to during the pandemic. No matter how relieving this situation may be for many of us, our dog might not like it. As a result, they might start showing some unusual behaviour such as getting anxious, running around and making a mess all over the house.
Many of you might have already started experiencing such changes in their behaviour as you would have started going out of the house often. This article will introduce the best tips that will help your dogs deal with separation anxiety as you return to work.
- Understand Their Behaviour
It could be a challenge to handle your dog when they are all anxious. Some of the easy signs could be when your dog gets super-excited when you come home. A dog might get very stressed out when left alone. They might bark a lot more than normal or continue howling. You might notice more accidents at home such as breaking things, shredded pillows and scratched doors. They might also want to escape from the house because of such anxious behaviour. Some dogs just start digging the yard or might pace around in an angry mood.
If all these signs happen quite often and things seem uncontrollable at times, you must consult a doctor before leaving your pet alone. Sometimes dogs just lose appetite or start shivering due to separation anxiety and it could be a sign of trouble. There could be other reasons for such behaviours in dogs like a change in medicine or a sudden change in their routine. A quick check-up from a vet could help you find some answers about your dog’s behaviour and they might suggest some of their ways to calm your pet down.
You might also want to try this separation anxiety quiz for your dog. It assesses the common symptoms and generates a dog’s severity score. It also suggests some steps that could be taken to train your dog if they have separation anxiety.
- Start With a Routine
You should not just make changes in the routine all of a sudden. For instance, you have been home for months now. You cook at home, you hardly go grocery shopping and your dog stays in your room all day. Then suddenly, one day you get ready and decide to go to work. You are prepared for such a change but your dog might find it unusual. It would trigger anxiety at a much faster rate and then consequences might not be very good.
But, if you slowly make them used to all the ‘big changes’ that are going to happen once the home isolation time is over, your dog might not even notice that you are gone. So start building up a routine slowly. Wake up at times when you would have to go to the office. Feed your dog as per that schedule only. Take your dog out for a walk accordingly. This would make your dog comfortable with your routine and they would not expect you to take them out at noon or 4 in the evening.
- Introduce Gradual Changes
As you would set their routine step-by-step, you must include some changes in the lifestyle of the house slowly. For instance, try leaving the house for some time and see how your dog behaves. It could be just for two minutes in the beginning and then you can slowly increase the time. In the beginning, your dog might not like it. They might get all anxious and want to break everything in the house. Immediately enter the house again and calm them down.
You might try giving them a treat before leaving the house or just turn on the TV. See how they react to it. Leave at a positive note from the house and do not make them feel as if you are just abandoning them.
You might also want to make your pet have a habit of being alone. For instance, as you are working from home, keep your pet dog in another room. You may keep them busy with dog toys or let them spend some time in the backyard. This will make them habitual with what to do when you are not around.
- Music Might Help
Do you know music can help your dog relax? Do you know that it can even help them fall asleep? We all know that dogs get scared of loud music or thunderstorms and fireworks. But a different kind of music might be soothing to their ears. Music has always been therapeutic for human beings and can be an anti-anxiety remedy for dogs too. For instance, try playing some classical music or soft tunes.
Many people use the music technique when they bring a puppy dog home and want them to adjust to the new environment. Some veterinary clinics also use music to keep the dogs calm while the doctor examines them. Some people use music to protect their dogs from city sounds or loud thunderstorms and
Check out this Spotify playlist for dogs that has some soothing songs You can even create your own pet playlist on Spotify by giving a few information about your pet dog like their whether they are shy or friendly and create a playlist that would match your dog’s vibe.
- Consider Dog Daycares
You might consider dog daycare options if you want your dog to socialise a bit and stay happy while you are off to work. It might cost you a little but it would allow your dog to play with other dogs and feel safe and secure without you. They would stay active and fit with all the exercises and playing around. You can pick a dog daycare that provides a facility of watching your dog’s activities via a webcam.
If your dog loves to play outside, leaving them at a daycare would be a positive change after the pandemic. And, separation anxiety would never bother them. However, this option might not be permanent as you might not be able to keep them at daycares forever. You would have to try other options as well along with the daycare option if you really want your dog to get over their anxieties.
- Enrichment Activities
If you find your dogs chewing, scratching and pacing around unnecessarily, engaging them in certain activities would be a great option. For instance, you can give them something to play with like a soft toy, a treat, a chew toy, a bone or a popsicle. Keep them busy with something while you are not around and they will not even feel anything.
Make a habit of giving a treat to your dog while you leave the house and do the same while you arrive. So, they will associate your leaving and coming back with something good and positive rather than getting all stressed up. This process is also known as counterconditioning and is often used with dogs who have mild separation anxiety.
You might also hire a trainer for your dog who can help reduce their anxiety. Trainers have professional experience and they understand how different dogs behave. They will help you manage the anxiety issues of your dog within weeks and you will be good to resume your pre-pandemic routines.
- Don’t Make it a Big Deal
Leaving your pet dog alone at home might be a big issue for you also. But, do not make it look like it is a big deal and you are all sad leaving them behind. For instance, you must keep your departures and arrivals low-key. When you leave the house you may greet your dog and ask them to be good. But at the same time give them something to do home alone.
When you arrive, do not just straightaway run towards them and give them all your affection. (We know you want to! But it would make your dog all excited and jumpy which is not good for them.) So, be calm as you arrive and get them into the same habit. Then, once you settle, you can go and play with your dog as much as you like.
You might also want to create their ‘zone’. It would be an area where they feel good and safe. For instance, your dog might love sitting in a crate or your dog might have a favourite pillow. So let them be in their happy place until you are not home and you will find them happy and calm.
Experiment and find out what works best for your dog
Now we have seen all the possible things that you can do to reduce the separation anxiety of your dog when you return to work. All you need to do is implement these strategies in combinations and see what works for your dog. We all know how adorable these pets are. For most of us, they are like family. So let’s make some smooth transitions before returning to our normal daily routines as the pandemic gets over.
Author’s Bio – Jessica Jones is an academic writer at GoAssignmentHelp, a company based in the Australia which provides all kind of academic help to the students. She loves to write about technology, education, marketing, digital marketing, life, traveling, home improvement etc. His company not only helps children living in Australia but also helps in the study of children all over the world. GoAssignmentHelp an academic writing service which provides the best and reliable assignment help in Melbourne.