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Returning to the Office: How to Ease Dog Separation Anxiety

Posted by Dr. Roth on March 16, 2022

Stress and Anxiety
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There’s no doubt that dogs had a great pandemic. With their parents home full-time, dogs got to have all the attention and companionship they could want. Now that the world is beginning to return to normal, however, people are noticing that their dogs are showing signs of separation anxiety. 

Dog anxiety is no joke. Pets can lose their appetite, act more destructive than usual, or whine and cry whenever people leave. All of these symptoms can be annoying at best and dangerous at worst. It’s possible to address a dog’s anxiety by following these great dog tips. 

Managing Dog Pandemic Transitions

Dogs love routine. One of the most essential elements of dog care is to give a pet a consistent routine. So, when schedules are changing, pets may be understandably upset. The simplest piece of dog advice is to replace the old pattern with a new one.

The process of training a dog to accept a new routine takes time. The dog needs to learn that being left alone isn’t scary or bad. 

  • Figure out the steps to the leaving routine. Most people perform the same few actions every time they leave the house, such as grabbing their keys and wallet, putting on their shoes, putting their dog in its kennel, then walking out the door. Figuring out the regular leaving routine provides the information necessary to make that time less scary for them.

  • Start practicing the leaving routine without actually leaving. If the dog demonstrates separation anxiety, it probably starts feeling nervous when its person performs a specific part of their leaving routine. For example, if someone only grabs their keys before they’re about to leave, the dog may start acting out when anyone holds the keys. Start repeating elements of the leaving routine without actually leaving the house, so the dog stops associating those actions with people disappearing. 

  •  ‌Build up time away. Once a dog is no longer reactive to the leaving routine, it’s time to start actually leaving. Build up the time people spend out of the dog’s sight. Start with very short “disappearances” and build up to half an hour, then an hour, then longer over a few weeks. This helps the dog understand that being alone isn’t the end of the world. 

  •  ‌Figure out ways to distract the dog. The last step of training a dog to be calmer is giving them something else to think about. Things like dog TV and videos, stuffed Kongs, food treats, and puzzle toys are great for providing dogs with mental stimulation and activity.

How to Help a Dog with Anxiety

General dog anxiety can make their separation anxiety worse. Dog care for anxious pets is more involved than dog training for calmer animals, but it’s still possible. A dog who’s anxious by nature may take longer to adjust to training, but patience and repetition can make the dog training tips above work just as well. 

If an animal seems to be anxious even after training, then it might be possible to use supplements designed as stress relief for dogs. Like all dog health care products, it’s a good idea to talk to a vet about brands and doses. Some supplements are intended for daily use, while others can be given before a dog must be left alone. Regardless, a vet will provide instructions about how to use them safely and correctly. 

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If training and supplements don’t work, the final course of action can be to ask a vet about dog anxiety medication. Just like their parents, some dogs have clinical anxiety. These dogs can benefit from anxiety medications. However, the drug should be used in conjunction with training to give the dog the best chance of becoming calm and happy. 

The Best Dog Advice for Energetic Anxious Dogs

Some dogs aren’t actually anxious. Instead, they’re bored. If a dog is getting bored and destructive when alone, they may seem nervous when people leave because their parent is their only source of entertainment. There are a few solutions to that. 

Dog training and interactive toys can be a great way to give a dog something to do. Try to train and tire out the dog before leaving for the day. This will help them sleep while alone instead of getting bored. 

The other solution is to get a routine pet sitter or dog walker. Having someone swing by the house once or more per day will give dogs something to look forward to. Walks are great stress relief for dogs. Plus, if dogs are routinely alone for eight or more hours, a pet sitter or dog walker is a great way to give them a potty break mid-day. 

Dogs Had a Great Pandemic, Now Give Them a Great Future!

The dog pandemic transition is tricky, but it’s not impossible. Dog care is all about understanding why the dog is having problems. When dog parents understand the root of dog anxiety, they can help their pets feel less anxious. Dogs can be kept happy and healthy even as pet parents return to work with dog health care products, dog anxiety medication, and dog training.

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