One of the reasons people love dogs so much is because they’re just like us; they’re social animals that are usually friendly, curious, and loyal. These are all great characteristics, but if you’re someone who has spent much more time at home during the Covid-19 lockdowns, your dog has probably become much more attached to you and more aware of your whereabouts.
If you’re due to go back into the office, it’s important you know how to deal with their separation anxiety to make sure they’re happy and as comfortable as possible.
Here are 7 key tips you can follow:
1. Ease them into having time alone
If you know you’ll be going back to the office on a certain date or you’re starting to go in gradually, ease your dog into having some alone time so it’s something they’re used to. This tip is really simple but can be extremely effective – it lets your dog know that it isn’t strange for you to go out and that you’ll always be returning home after.
Think food shopping, going to see friends, going to the park, etc. It’s all part of the bigger picture of making your dog feel less anxious.
2. Don’t make too much of a fuss
It will seem normal to most of us to make a fuss of our dogs every time we’re going out and whenever we return home, especially if we feel bad for leaving them alone post-lockdown. But it’s important to be aware that this could do more harm than good.
Instead, try to make going out and returning home relatively normal and uneventful, giving your dog attention but also reducing any anticipation. This will help your dog to relax and make it seem like a typical, less-sensitive part of the day.
3. Leave the TV or radio on in the background
You might be used to doing this already, but making sure your pup has some background noise whenever you go into the office will help them feel less alone. Dogs can be just like us, remember, so if you would prefer to have the TV or radio on in the background, then it’s likely they will too.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be part of your routine either – if the TV or radio is already on in the morning when you’re getting ready, just leave it on when you go. This will help to ‘normalise’ leaving your pup through the day.
4. Find out what’s most effective for calming their anxiety
It’s important to remember that all dogs are different – what works for some dogs might not work for yours. There are many different things you can do to try and calm your dog’s anxiety and make them feel more comfortable, including leaving an item of clothing behind for them that has your scent on it.
You could also do some research into stress relief and anxiety supplements for dogs, making sure to speak to a professional if you aren’t sure what is best for your pup. Some people use CBD oil to help with their dog’s anxiety – just like some people do for their own – as it is said to have certain health benefits.
5. Keep giving them lots of exercise
Going back into the office potentially means leaving your dog alone for long periods of time, but it shouldn’t mean abandoning them or ignoring the things you usually do. If you take your pup out for a walk in the afternoon, add this into your schedule for when you return from work. If you finish work later than usual, try and go in the morning.
You don’t need to put too much pressure on yourself either – your pup will love going to your local park more than staying at home if that’s all you can manage one day.
6. Give them enriching and mind-stimulating toys
There are various different toys that are designed to keep your dog occupied and mentally stimulated, such as licky mats, slow feeders, and treat dispensers (especially for when you’re not at home). These won’t only take your pup’s mind off being bored or alone, but they can help to improve their focus and brainpower and ensure they’re having lots of fun when you aren’t there.
7. Ensure their space is safe and has plenty of room
When you do go back into the office, whether it’s full time or a couple of days a week, make it a priority that your pup is left in a safe and suitable place. They’ll probably be used to running around during the day whilst you’ve been at home, so you don’t want to shock them by restricting them to a small space.
What’s more, move anything that could be harmful to your dog out of the way, including anything that they could chew. You want your pup to be comfortable whilst you’re out but also for them to behave when unsupervised.
Be the most supportive dog owner you can be
You should always try and be a great dog owner – taking the time to understand your dog’s characteristics and build a relationship with them that works for you both. However, it’s crucial that you pay attention to your dog’s behaviour as you start going back into the office, understanding the emotions that come with it and doing what you can to make sure they’re happy.
Following these 7 tips will help to ease your dog’s anxiety post-lockdown, as well as making sure they’re always loved, fed and watered.