Separation Anxiety In Dogs: Helping our furry friends with se-PAW-ration anxiety when lockdown lifts
By Sophie Swift
As we have spent the last year inside, many of us will have had our furry sidekicks join in with Zoom meetings and banana bread baking. But as we come out of lockdown and enter back into a more sociable world, what will this mean for our dogs?
Dogs have been close to our side throughout the pandemic and, because of this, one in three new puppy owners are worried about leaving their dogs when lockdown lifts. Similarly, one in two first-time owners are finding puppy-raising harder than expected. You may already find that your dog howls when you leave.
HLN spoke to Dr Sean McCormack, Head Vet at tails.com to discover how our dogs may struggle with separation anxiety as we start to leave the house more frequently again, and the best ways we can help combat their stresses.
When we asked what were some of the most effective ways to encourage your dog to become more independent as life goes back to normal, Sean said: ‘As lockdown lifts, we should expect that behavioural issues could rise with young dogs and puppies,’ Sean explains. ‘Particularly, we should keep an eye on separation anxiety and socialisation as these dogs, many of whom will now be in adolescence, adjust to a more social world.’
Here are Dr McCormack’s top tips for preparing your pooch for post-lockdown living:
Leave your dog for short periods of time to build up their independence. If your dog starts to howl when left alone, don’t be surprised. Don’t react during the periods of separation, or you’ll make a difficult job for yourself when you’ve got to leave the house for longer hours.
Have your dog settle in one room while you work in another; use a stair gate or similar to restrict your dog from being at your side 24/7.
Set up false departures where you go through the motions, gathering keys, putting on your coat and shoes, closing the windows, etc. Then sit back down and stay. Your dog will learn that departure signals are not a cause for separation anxiety.
When you have been out and come back into the house, ignore your dog completely at first until they’re calmer and have lost interest in your return. Then call and greet them calmly to avoid making your arrival ‘a big thing’.
Ask other members of your family or even neighbours/friends to walk your dog occasionally to build their independence and encourage detachment from you as a positive experience. Separation from you needn’t make your pup feel lonely!
Go on a ‘pup date’ in the park to start socialising your dog with others for longer periods of time.
Allow your dog to spend some time greeting and even playing with other dogs in the park on walks.
If you still feel you need a little more help with dog separation anxiety training to deal with your best friend’s behavioural needs, then we’d say tails.com is a pretty good place to start. Here you can find a range of resources and support, particularly in the Puppy Hub section.
We hope all this helps turns our doggies’ RUFF days of anxiety into a puppy PAWTY in no time! After all, the dog days are nearly over!