When COVID-19 shut down most aspects of our lives, our dogs became more than our pets, they became a much larger part of our support system! Through the past year, they have grown accustomed to spending every moment with you – with more interaction, stimulation, and exercise. Just knowing you’re there can make your dog feel more secure, but sometimes, they’ll need to be on their own.
As restrictions are lifted and more businesses start to reopen, many pet parents will be returning to the office, which could leave your dog with a heightened form of separation anxiety. Teaching your dog that it is OK to spend time on their own is important at all stages of a dog’s life to build their confidence and comfort in being left alone – especially now!
To help set you up for success, our veterinarians at Arizona Animal Hospital have a few tips to help ease your dog back into the new normal.
- Our vets agree that the best way to help your dog is to start preparing your pet BEFORE you actually change your routine. Easing them into your absence makes all the difference.
- Crate Training is Key! Ensure your dog has their own special place where they feel safe and secure. Get your dog used to being in the crate now, by putting them in the crate when you present, but not interacting with them. Next, start leaving the house with them in their crate, with each outing a little longer than the last. When you finally are ready to head back to work, your pet will be accustomed to being in their crate.
- Identify a special toy or treat that you only give their dog only when you are leaving the house. Having your dog associate you leaving with something positive versus negative can help alleviate the fear. Consider a longer-lasting treat or an extra fun toy that can provide a positive distraction for your absence!
- Desensitize your dog to your departure! Have you noticed that dogs watch our every move from the moment we wake up? They can work themselves up into quite an anxious state before you have even left the house if you always have the same routine when you head off to work. Change the order of your departure routine constantly, as well as normalizing some of your departure sounds and movements. This can include rattling your keys and grabbing your bag, but not actually leaving the house. That way, they are not associated with you leaving every time.
- Confinement – limit your losses and protect your pet. If separation anxiety occurs, your pet may engage in destructive behaviors that were not a problem while you were home. If your pet is not crate trained, consider confining them to an area or room in the house while you are gone to not only minimize the potential destruction, but also to keep your pet safe.
Although these are some common tips, every situation can be different. If you have any questions or concerns, we are here for you and your pets! Please give us a call at 480-686-8083.