During this lockdown our pets are getting used to spending more time with us, and getting extra fuss and attention. We need to make sure that all this extra time with our pets doesn’t make it hard for them when we do return to work and venture back into the outside world.
Behaviour vet Craig Waldron says…
“Separation anxiety can be caused a number of factors including hyper-attachment with owner or a change in the owner’s routine or circumstances, such as being at home all the time”.
So, what can owners do to prevent their dog getting too attached and developing separation anxiety when they return to work?
You can help your dog to avoid feeling this way by easing them back into their normal routine.
Go in different rooms
Teach your dog some independence by putting them in another room. Leave them alone in the house while you go out into the garden or while you spend time in another room.
Teach your dog to “stay”
Teach your dog the stay command. Start with short lengths of time, and once your dog can stay for several minutes, you can begin to leave the room. Eventually, you should be able to leave his sight while he stays for five or ten minutes.
Teach your dog it’s ok to be on their own
If your dog is already getting stressed when they know you’re leaving them, try countering this reaction by using a high-value reward such as their favourite treats. They might even begin to look forward to your departure!
Build up the time
Start by leaving him for very short periods of time and gradually lengthen the amount of time you’re gone. You can leave your dog for a few minutes while you’re making yourself a cup of tea for example. Then gradually build up the time until they’re happy to be left in a room on their own for longer periods. Gradually build up the amount of time your dog is spending alone until they’re ready to go back to their normal routine.
Play it cool
Play it cool when you come back into the same room or leave a room. You can give them a fuss but don’t go crazy. Be calm and don’t go overboard with the attention!
Get your dog used to being left in a room over and over, don’t let the follow you all over the house.
Use interactive toys
These are a great way to keep a dog busy, enriched while you’re not there. Use stuffed kongs or interactive feeders.
Use your crate
If your dog is used to using a crate for sleep and quiet times, let your dog have “time out” in his safe place throughout the day. Cover the crate with a towel if necessary.
Teach your dog to lie on a bed
To prevent your dog from being your shadow, which could leave to over-attachment, you can teach them to go to their bed throughout the day. Every time your dog goes on or near their bed, reward them.
Build this up to rewarding when your dog lies on his bed. And add in the command” BED”.
You can then add in the duration of the time your dog lies down and when they get their reward.
Using all these in combination, or whatever suits your lifestyle and relationship, will help you ease your dog back into their normal routine, meaning a happy dog and owner.