What do you MEAN you’re going out? You’re NOT leaving without ME!!
While maintaining social distance and staying in our homes may not be our first choice of lifestyle, it is exactly what we should all be doing to help flatten the COVID-19 curve. That being said, it’s pretty safe to say that someone in your house is absolutely thrilled we’re all stuck at home! Our fluffiest family members are finally able to join us during our work and school days, as they demand constant, undivided attention and never-ending cuddles.
While the knowledge that this will only be temporary brings most of us humans comfort, many of our dogs would strongly disagree. That’s why we want to help each and every one of you prepare your pups for the day that you do have to go back to the office or school…
How to Handle Separation Anxiety
As our dogs become more attached to us, they unfortunately become more prone to separation anxiety when we need to leave them for some time. Many dogs react differently to this situation. They may begin barking or howling as you depart and become stressfully hyperactive upon your return. They may start acting depressed, anxious or agitated as they sense your impending departure. They may start forgetting the rules of house-training or chew through the furniture in their stressed state. In extreme cases, their need to cope can result in dangerous situations for themselves and you, causing self-injury or household destruction near windows or doors.
In order to help prevent separation anxiety, we recommend incorporating the following into your departure routine:
1. Keep it natural. Try and create natural separations in small doses throughout the day. Let them run outside in the yard by themselves or head into a different room for an hour or two each day. This will help to remind them that just because they aren’t with you doesn’t mean you’re disappearing.
2. Keep it low-key. Don’t make a big deal of your coming and going. If you’re running out of the house for groceries or just need a bit of a break in a different room, don’t prolong the departure. Make a quick exit and don’t perform any big goodbyes.
3. Keep the crate routine. Continue crate-training each day for 10-15 minutes. This will help to reinforce the idea that crates are not directly associated with you leaving – it can also be something fun! Try giving a special bone every time you put them in their crate. Make it a treat they only get while in the crate, so it’s something they can look forward to, and then put it away when they are not in the crate. For more information on crate training, click here!
4. Be consistent and considerate. Depending upon the amount of time you will be gone (a good rule of thumb for puppies is 1 hour for each month of their age up to 5 hours), you might let them outside to go to the bathroom. Remove any dangerous objects that could harm them. Stuffed toys are a real choking risk and should be removed while you’re gone. Turning on music can reduce the dog’s stress and make them feel less alone. And turn on any lights so they’re not in the dark (quite literally!).
Dogs are so attuned to their owners that the best you can do is to stay calm when leaving. This will help reassure your dog you’re both going to be okay until you’re reunited. We promise!