During the coronavirus lockdown, many people found themselves unexpectedly working from home with their dogs. For us, there are pros and cons about working from home but what about our canine friends? How can you avoid separation anxiety in your dog after lockdown?
Dogs, generally, have probably been positively affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Their owners have been around at home a LOT more and they have been taken for more walks and played with much more than normal. All good.
But what happens when it’s time to go back to the office and you are leaving your dog at home alone again for several hours at a time?
Naturally, many dog owners are anxious about how their dogs might react and separation anxiety in dogs is a common problem anyway. But if you had trained your dog to be happy when they were at home alone, you may be wondering how on earth they will cope when you have to go to the office again.
10 suggestions on how to avoid separation anxiety in your dog after lockdown
While you are still working from home, you can begin to prepare your dog for being home alone by gradually restricting your dog’s access to you during the day. Don’t underestimate how long this process could take – allow a month for your dog to acclimatise to not being with you all day long.
Learning to be home alone
To introduce the idea that the dog will be alone, you could put your dog in another room where you aren’t working with some enrichment toys and allow them to entertain themselves for a while.
Comforting : I’m here, but you can’t touch me
If your dog starts whining or barking for you, you could consider restricting access by using a baby gate so that your dog can still see you, even though they cannot reach you physically.
The long stay
Develop some duration by practising a long ‘stay’ command in the place where you will be leaving your dog. Give the ‘stay’ commande, leave them alone in the room for 10 seconds, then come back in and give them a fuss, or treat for staying put. Repeat this process over several hours and days, gradually increasing the amount of time you leave the dog alone for.
Preparing to go: The familiar routine
When you leave the room, pick up your keys, your bag and phone and close the door on the dog as if you are going to work. You could even open and close the front door, so that your dog thinks you have left the house. Leave it a few seconds them go and greet the dog as you would when you’ve come home from work on a ‘normal’ day.
Create your workday routine and follow it for a few weeks before you actually go back to work if possible. Give your dog love, attention and breakfast before you ‘leave’, follow the same routine for ‘leaving the house’ and on your return. However, dogs can benefit from having a little bit of variety in their schedule to help them cope, so you can mix it up a bit when it comes to the times for feeding, walks etc.
Their safe space
Ensure your dog has access to a comfortable safe space, such as the usual bed or blanket and their toys to help them while away the time until your return.
Exercise tires minds, body and is good for the soul
Ensure that your dog is sufficiently exercised before you leave the house for long periods of time – if they are tired out from a good walk or run, then they are more likely to rest and sleep whilst you are out at work. Make sure they’ve been allowed to have a good sniff on their walk too as 15 minutes of sniffing is the equivalent mental workout of an hours walk.
You could consider getting a dog video monitor so you can check on your dog during the day when you are still working from home to see how your dog is coping without having to enter the room where the dog is. This can also give you peace of mind once you actually return to the office.
During the time when you are preparing your dog to be home alone again, you could use food dispensing toys such as enrichment treat balls or our Ruffle Snuffle mat to keep your dog engaged in fun activities which will reduce boredom and loneliness.
If you have already managed to get your dog ready for being home alone, then we would love to hear what worked well for you. Share your story below.