The pandemic has seen most of us more at home, with more time spent with our pets. Dogs are always so much happier when their masters are at home. This particular dog even sprained its tail from the sheer joy of spending more time with its owner.
While it is an adorable thing for your dog to be so much happier when you work from home, easing out of the quarantines and lockdowns may have an adverse effect on your animal.
Your dog might get separation anxiety.
Glasgow-based dog expert and operations manager of Dogs for Good, Dr Chris Muldoon, cited the very real threat of separation anxiety in dogs once owners return to work—that the adverse effects could not only impact their mental health but also their physical health.
He urged that owners should gradually prepare their dogs for the reopening of society, and reintroduce them to your old routines as early as now.
Separation anxiety is often caused by the removal of something constant in the dog’s life or part of its routine. It could also be triggered by the reintroduction of certain aspects of an old routine, such as the jingling of car keys or the sound of the front door closing.
How it manifests
Your dog may begin to act out. Right before you have to leave the house, they may display hyperactive behaviours, which can last for a while even after you have left. They may end up barking for a long period of time while you’re gone, and might even tear and chew on the furniture.
More severe signs are increased anxiety-based whining, elevated heart right, and quicker breathing.
Puppies are particularly susceptible
Older dogs may have had years to get used to your pre-New Normal routines. Some of them might even be excited to get back to their alone time. Many older dogs used to walking more regularly have experienced a similar decline in health from the lack of outside stimulation.
Puppies, however, are an entirely different story. Dogs growing up in quarantine have only known the presence of their masters. In a single-dog household, they might have never even met another dog outside their litter.
It might prove difficult to acclimate them to the lifting of social distancing requirements, especially if you haven’t taken any measures to slowly reintroduce them to normal life.
What can I do?
In order to mitigate the separation anxiety in your dog, and its effects, here are some steps you could take:
- Pretend to go to work. Do some of the things that were part of your work routine. Wear office clothes around the house, jingle your keys, and try going outside for a few minutes. Do this regularly, and at random times during the day. As time goes on, increase the time you spend outside.
- Reward the dog for adjusted behaviour. Make sure, when you come back in, that you ignore the dog while it’s still making a fuss. Wait until it settles down, then give it a reward.
- Be patient. Do not react or punish the dog for barking. This will create more anxiety.
- Watch for how your dog reacts to other dogs when it gets taken on long walks again. It might have been a while since your dog has interacted with another dog. Keep it on the leash, and don’t expect them to act the same way they did before the quarantine.
At the end of the day, we all want to be responsible and caring dog owners. Separation anxiety does not have to be a permanent part of your dog’s life. With a firm and loving hand, you can prepare your dog for the realities of your life, and make them healthier overall, both physically and mentally.