All dogs, especially young puppies we are seeing, are at risk of developing separation anxiety when Covid-19 lockdown ends, and their owners begin to return to work and school.
In this post, our Head Nurse Nic Pakyuz gives some great advice on how to manage this risk.
These pets have been used to having their owners around 24/7 for over 2 months, enjoying extra treats, walks and cuddles.
Not all dogs will exhibit the signs of separation anxiety, but for some the change in routine may lead to excessive barking, howling, destroy/chewing things, lose control of their bladder/bowels or worse case, self-harm.
This may start as soon as their owners start to leave them again or for the first time with new puppies.
There are things you, as an owner, can put in place now to reduce this risk. Now is the time to act to try and avoid future problems:
- Encourage your dog to settle in their own bed while you work from home, cook dinner or watch T.V
- Spend time in another room away from your dog and in the garden with your dog inside.
- If you can leave your house, e.g. food shopping. Leave your dog on their own (as you would have done pre-lockdown, if they tolerated being home alone) not with members of your household.
- Try and stick to a similar routine to the one you were in pre-lockdown and one you are likely to return to. Feed your dog the same times, let them have sleep time when you would have been out of the house and walk them roughly the same time as you did.
Think about the behaviour you want in an adult dog, this is how you must treat your puppy from day one. So if you don’t want your adult dog to jump up to greet you (or visitors) then discourage and ignore your puppy if it carries out that behaviour.
Likewise if you don’t want to share your sofa or bed with a fully grown Labrador (especially a bitch in season!) don’t encourage your puppy to snuggle up with you in those locations.
Or if you think it’s cute to have a puppy hang off the bottom of your trousers – think about a 20kg Collie doing the same thing!
For new puppies there is a good article with advice on the Dogs trust website:
These are just a few basic ideas.
Separation anxiety can also be very complex, especially if your dog was displaying signs before lockdown, these last few weeks may have exacerbated your situation.
If you find the above advice isn’t helping, please don’t continue to struggle alone – Call the practice on 01497 820 863 and we will do our very best to listen to your concerns and put you in touch with a behaviourist to work with you to create a better living environment.