5 ways to deal with dog anxiety after lockdown
While the coronavirus has imposed severe restrictions on human movements our furry friends having been enjoying our constant companionship. As the lockdown restrictions are eased and we start to venture outside our homes and further afield what does this mean for your four-legged friends? Some may start to suffer from separation anxiety. This can often lead to behaviour changes like excessive barking while you are away or things being chewed and destroyed.
I am no expert on this matter so I asked Pawfect’s co-founder and expert dog training, Belinda Bolte from 1-2-1 Puppy and Dog Training, to explain why this may happen and what we can do to prevent it. She explains that “In nature, dogs are almost never away from their pack. It is therefore our job to help make this unnatural situation less stressful!”
Here are Belinda’s Top 5 tips to help prevent anxiety in your dog as we ease out of lockdown.
1. Before you leave the house, take your dog for a walk.
Start your day by taking your dog for a brisk walk, within the government regulations . Then reward your dog’s calm-submissive energy with food and water. Some dogs may need to rest before eating, but all dogs can benefit from hydration. The idea is to leave your dog in a quiet, resting mode while you are away.
2. Make departure a non-event
Make your departure and return a non-event. This way, you are communicating to your dog that the time apart is no big deal. Depending on the severity of the dog anxiety, you may need to practice the rule for five minutes or up to an hour before you leave and when you get back.
3. Say goodbye to your dog long before you leave.
Take a moment to share affection and tell your dog that you will miss them way before you actually leave. Keep in mind that this display is for you, not your dog! Your dog won’t have their feelings hurt if you didn’t say goodbye.
4. Stay calm and assertive!
When you are ready to go to work, leave those guilty, nervous, and concerned feelings behind. Instead, let your dog know that everything is going to be okay by projecting a calm confidence. A calm and assertive leader can ease separation anxiety in dogs.
5. Start out small by leaving your dog alone for just five minutes.
Leave your dog alone for five minutes, then extend the time to twenty minutes, then an hour. Continue to increase the time you spend away.
If after applying the above steps you are still struggling then we suggest leaving your TV on or playing soft calming music in the area which your dog rests may assist to reduce separation anxiety. We are still trying to decide whether our dogs prefer the Cartoon Network and the Animal channel!