Helping Your Dog Cope With Separation Anxiety After COVID-19

As California is slowly reopening and you return to work after sheltering in place for the last 8 weeks, your dog may show signs of extreme separation anxiety (which they may have never exhibited before).

If you have been with your dog 24/7, the overload of quality time with your dog may have built up a huge reservoir of over-dependency, which could result in your dog experiencing panic attacks that manifest in destructive behavior, extreme barking episodes and accidents.

Helping Your Dog Cope With Separation Anxiety After COVID-19

First and foremost, scolding or otherwise punishing your dog for exhibiting the signs of separation anxiety NEVER help the situation. It will likely have the opposite effect.

Dogs are social animals so teaching them to self-isolate can be difficult. While no dog should be left alone for longer than four to six hours (two hours for young puppies and older seniors), you can gradually help them acclimate to spending short periods alone.

Not heading back to work or school yet? This is the perfect time to ease your pet back toward a new routine of you being gone from home more.

CREATE A ROUTINE  Dogs thrive off a routine which sets expectations and makes them feel safe.  The most important thing to remember is to start small.  Use a baby gate to block off a kitchen/laundry room/utility room – this allows your dog to see, hear, and smell you during the early training phases.  Personalize it with your dog’s bed, water bowl, safe toys, and chewing options, etc.

Practice Leaving and Returning:  Test your dog’s behavior when you leave the house and return. Walk out the door and lock it. Wait a few minutes before you come back in. Do you hear your dog barking, whining or scratching at the door?  Take baby steps, be positive, and be patient.  When you come back into the house, maintain a calm demeanor, do not “gush” over them.

If your dog is engaging in extreme, destructive behavior while you’re away, contact your veterinarian or a canine behaviorist to discuss alternative training and options to keep them calm.  (You may need to go back to basic training so your dog can get back into the new normal routine.)

Provide Independent Playtime:  Engage your dog in fun independent play. Provide a highly desirable chewy or treat toy. This teaches them that isolation can be rewarding. Make sure your dog only has access to this special item when in their isolation area and/or when you leave home!

Take them to Dogtopia Daycare:  Daycare is the perfect place for your dog to get the socialization and exercise they need when you can’t be with them. Make plans now to help your dog avoid the doggie blues by scheduling some playtime at Dogtopia South Bay. Your dog will love playing with other dogs of similar size and personality and you’ll have peace of mind knowing they are being watched by a highly trained and loving team.

As our life starts to return to our new normal, don’t forget about your dog! Make sure you implement routines and activities to help make this a smooth transition for them and ease their separation anxiety.

Parts of this blog taken from the following resources: 

  • Falls Village Veterinary Hospital
  • iheartdogs.com
  • Dogtopia South Bay

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