As pandemic lockdowns ease and businesses reopen, many dog owners will be heading back to work. Four-legged friends will be left alone at home all day again, and your absence can lead to behavioral problems. There are signs your dog is feeling separation anxiety at the thought of you leaving home: clingy behavior, excessive drooling or following you around the house. Take steps now to ease your pet into the new normal so that you don’t come home to chewed furniture—or worse.
Make your dog feel safe.
Don’t lock your dog in an unfamiliar room to protect your home from mishaps. The dog needs a safe, familiar spot to ease separation anxiety. Some dogs are fine left to choose their own location, while others may feel safest in their crate. Keep in mind that crates don’t work for many dogs. If that’s the case, try using a baby gate to keep the dog in a room they like. Think about limiting their view out a window so the dog doesn’t get overly excited by passerby’s.
Practice before you leave for real.
Get your pet accustomed to your absence. The key will be to show the dog the routine you’ll use when leaving the house each day. If you change clothes just before you go, your Fido will associate the act of getting dressed with your exit. Follow dressing by picking up your keys and purse and walking out the door. The dog will put two and two together and recognize you’re leaving.
Start this training slowly. Leave for just five seconds after placing some treats on the ground to distract your dog as you exit. Stay away for 20 seconds when you repeat the exercise the second time. On the third time, take a walk down the block and make the walk longer on the fourth attempt. Keep prolonging your absence as you continue training and your pet will become more adjusted.
Figure out new entertainment.
Plan different entertainment for your pet when work won’t let you take the dog out every few hours. Can you come home for lunch and walk the dog? Can you get a dog sitter? Is doggie day care an option? Seek out new ways to keep them entertained and able to go to the bathroom if you must limit your walks.