SEPARATION ANXIETY AND COVID-19
Everyone’s world has changed and so have their dog’s. Although it seems like the dogs have the best of it by having everyone home with them 24/7, naturally, it will become something they come to expect and they may have a hard time adapting to their previously quiet days when everyone starts going back to work and school. It is important to do things now to help prevent them from developing separation anxiety.
Try and stick to a similar routine that you had before all of this began. If you have been crate training, continue to do so. Set aside certain times of the day for crate time so that they can still get the rest that they would get if you weren’t home. A good time to give them crate time is when you are in the shower, exercising, doing your own work or working with your children. Continue to crate them when you leave the house. This isn’t the time to be trying to leave them out of the crate when you aren’t home.
It is important to try leaving them every day (while observing social distancing) and go to the store, to pick up food, go for a car ride, bike ride, run, walk or whatever just make an attempt to get out of the house and leave them alone. If you crate them and remain in the house, most likely, they will know you are still there so actually leaving is important. Do the same routine things you would do when you would leave them prior to the virus so that it is normal for them. If you gave them treats to get in their house and left music on when you were gone, continue to do that. When you do return, make sure not to act excited to see them when you come in so as to not make them think that it was a big deal that you were gone. The sooner you start practicing this, the better for your dog.
In addition to worrying about preventing separation anxiety, you want to make sure to have your dog do things that are normal to them. If they have been going to daycare or play groups, continue to send them, even if you are now working from home, simply because it is what they are used to. If they are in training or have been through training, go over the things that they have learned and try to teach them new things. There are many online resources that teach you how to teach your dog tricks or commands. If they get bored, you will start to see destructive behavior even though you are in the house with them. Try and do things with your dog that mentally stimulates them. Just because you are there all day doesn’t mean you don’t need to walk them; they need the mental stimulation of the change of environment. Even just sitting outside with them and watching the people go by can be good for them. You don’t want them to end up being afraid to leave their “safe” environment. This is especially important for young puppies, because if they aren’t given the opportunity to see the world outside of your house, you run the risk of them having fear and anxiety issues. Doing things to prevent all of these issues are much easier than trying to fix them once they have become an issue.
By Elizabeth C. Schonberg,
Certified Professional Trainer