Coronavirus has been hard on many people, but we often do not consider the impact it can have on our dogs. While your dog has probably loved the extra attention he/she gets while you work from home, those extended hours of bonding may cause your dog to develop separation anxiety.
Separation anxiety in dogs can create many issues both physically and mentally. A dog will show signs of separation anxiety any time it is away from it’s human. You can identify separation anxiety behaviors with “the 4 P’s” Panting, Pacing, Pooping, and Peeing. Behaviors may also include, but are not limited to: barking, crying, destruction, and hiding. It is essential you identify these behaviors and find solutions before it’s too late. If untreated, separation anxiety can cost thousands of dollars in vet visits and training courses. In the worst case scenarios it leads to euthanasia. In the next paragraphs we will discuss ways to prevent separation anxiety from developing or worsening in dogs.
Helping your dog combat separation anxiety issues
The worst thing you can continue doing is not leaving your home. While it may seem like your dog’s behavior has gotten much better while together 24/7, it will only make your dog’s separation anxiety worsen the next time you need to leave your dog home alone. Reale Dog Training recommends leaving your house at least once a day for at least 15-20 minutes. This will again acclimate them to you not being home all the time. It is also recommended to keep a routine similar to that before being home due to covid-19. For example, if you previously left for work each morning by 10am try to get out of the house at that time, even if it’s not for the same length of time as before.
If your dog is jumping, barking, or biting in order to convince you not to leave, it is important you do not make contact with their attempts. By giving those behaviors your attention you are only reinforcing those negative behaviors. Try to make your departure as quickly and quietly as possible. Avoid saying things such as “bye buddy I love you so much and I’ll be right back!” or excessively petting your dog before departure.
When you do make a plan to leave your dog alone for a period of time, you must leave with them food dispensing toys or high value treats that will help keep them occupied while you are away. By using high value treats your dog will be positively reinforced while being alone. We recommend the kong wobbler, magic mushroom, Starmark toys and any puzzle toys.
If you notice your dogs’ separation anxiety behaviors worsening get them checked out at the veterinarian and begin a behavioral modification plan with a trainer. By taking these steps each day you are setting you and your pup up for success, and providing them a sufficient routine to work with. If you have any questions or inquiries about how we can help with separation anxiety feel free to email us, or give us a call at (614) 342-0857.