Once COVID-19 restrictions start to ease, and we return to work, school or study, we may be starting to spend more time away from home. It is essential to know how to help our dogs manage this transition, as knowing what to expect supports their emotional health and gives them a sense of control.
Routine, routine, routine. Pets thrive on routine.
Mealtime is the most anticipated event of the day, so be sure to give meals at roughly the same time. Exercise is another high-value activity. Be sure to establish a routine that you can maintain once you return to work or study.
Things you can do now to help ease separation strain.
Our dogs will need to wean themselves off having us at home all day. For many dogs, the transition to time alone could be tough.
Here are some tips to help:
- Move sleeping beds out of your home office and back to their ‘usual’ spot. Create a comfortable and safe space where your dog is happy to spend time alone. Ensure they always have access to clean water and a place to toilet.
- Identify and start to desensitise dogs to your departure cues. Do you jangle your house keys? Put a backpack on? Dogs are great at piecing together cues which signal your intent to leave. Gradual exposure to these cues can help reduce the anxiety associated with them. So, pick up your keys and sit and watch TV, or put on work shoes and cook dinner. Over time, your departure cues will become less likely to trigger anxiety.
- Practice leaving for small periods. As your dog gets used to your absence gradually increase time away. Start small, just a few minutes, then slowly increase to five minutes, ten minutes, 20, 30 and so on. If you can, interchange time away with your housemates or partner to begin with.
Try your best to establish these things now, giving your pet time to adjust.
Remember, separation-related issues are not naughty behaviours and should not be disciplined. There are always underlying emotional reasons for our pet’s actions.
If you are worried, or if your pet is displaying behaviours like escaping, digging, chewing, toileting inappropriately, pacing or barking, you can book a video appointment with a VetCheck 24/7 Vet, 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
They can help you de-code your dogs behaviour and restore their wellbeing.
Find out more at www.vetcheck247.com