Pre-pandemic, our dogs were quite used to being left alone for 8 or 9 hours at a time. But this year, we’ve had to make significant changes in our day-to-day activities, which includes spending most of our time inside our homes with our pets as our sole companions. As cities move towards safely reopening, and we begin to return to work and other activities, you can help your furry friends adjust with some simple dog separation anxiety training tips.
Prepare Your Dog: Practice Leaving Your Home
Get your dog used to you leaving and coming back again. You can start with short trips, perhaps to the grocery store, or out for a run. Then, slowly increase the amount of time you’re gone so by the time you have to leave for several hours at a time, it’s not so sudden and your dog has had time to readjust to the routine of being home alone.
If you normally have a particular ritual, like crating or putting them in a room, start re-incorporating these into your routine. It’s also important to remember to keep your good-byes low key and not to draw out your departure.
Reincorporate Regular Work Day Rituals
If you’ve crate trained your dog, or have a gated off area you keep your dog in the house while you’re away, try putting them in their crate or play area and working from another room for a few hours. This will re-familiarize them with their crate during the day while you are working.
For those who use regular dog walkers, try booking a dog walker to come for an afternoon walk while you’re still at home. This can help reduce your dog’s anxiety by transitioning them to a regular routine with a new person. All of our Barkly walkers are advised to adhere to safe social distancing guidelines when picking up and dropping off your furry friends.
Look for Signs of Separation Anxiety in Your Dog
Treating anxiety starts with recognizing the signs of it. Anxiety in pets can take on many forms, the most common are:
- Barking or whining
- Panting or pacing
- Shaking or shivering
- Destruction of objects
- Refusing to eat
- Hiding or cowering behind furniture
- Incessant licking of self or object
Once you notice your dog displaying signs of stress, you can start understanding it and then treating their symptoms with helpful strategies.
Relieve Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety
One of the easiest ways to ensure your dog is relaxed while you’re gone is to get them plenty of exercise beforehand. A tired dog is less likely to suffer from anxiety and will instead snooze the hours you’re away instead of fretting over them.
Another strategy is to leave them with their favorite toy, or a kong stuffed with their favorite treat. Giving them some stimulation will help distract their attention, and relieve some of their adjustment anxieties.
Many pet parents have turned to CBD and natural hemp products to reduce their pet’s stress. Though it comes from cannabis, CBD products contain almost no THC, so these products provide dogs with the benefit of relaxation without any intoxication. The Anxious Pet focuses on helping pet anxiety with a holistic approach which includes veterinarian formulated products and supplements. Their products include Hemp Oil Drops as well as Calming Chews, both of which have CBD and non-CBD options available.
Take It Slow
Whether it’s next month, or next year, eventually we’ll return to work and office spaces, coffee shops, concerts and other events. Reopening and going back to old routines may not happen overnight, and that’s a good thing. Gradual adjustments allow us as much time as possible to get our pets used to us leaving our homes again. As with most things, it’s best to take dog separation anxiety training just one step, or one paw, at a time.
To learn more about CBD and pets, read our article on how CBD helps dogs with anxiety.