Is your dog ready for a return to normal? We have found ourselves stuck at home much more than we usually are over these last couple months. We’ve all found different ways of coping with the stress, the boredom, and the unknown. Many rescue shelters have been completely cleared out of puppies, dogs, and cats. But what happens when life goes back to normal and our furbabies are left again on their own for hours, or the new puppies that have never been left while we’ve had to go to work. Is your dog going to suffer from separation anxiety after Covid-19? How is he going to readjust to normal everyday life now that he’s had a new normal?
I’m not entirely sure, probably like everyone else, what “normal” is going to be once everything starts opening back up, but the world can’t stay shut down forever. While corona has affected everyone in one way or another, your dog’s life has been just as impacted. He’s had a wonderful vacation with you! The worlds been on pause for the equivalent of a summer vacation. I have bred puppies and been around breeders almost my entire life and never once have I or anyone I’ve known refused to place a puppy with a teacher! The best time for teachers to get a puppy is during the summer when they have time to concentrate on their new bundle of fur, then in the fall their back to work. Puppies adjust to their new schedule perfectly fine, as will most other dogs. There are some however who will have a problem with their new schedules.
What is Separation Anxiety?
Every dog gets attached to their people to some extent, but some dogs get exceptionally attached and become supper stressed when they leave. There are varying degrees of separation anxiety ranging from mild to sever cases. Mild cases can usually be handled with some simple behavior modifying techniques where the more severe cases may require medical intervention. If you suspect your dog is struggling with separation anxiety talk to your vet about ways to help.
Dogs at the Most Risk of Developing Separation Anxiety
Our beginnings have a HUGE impact on our lives, same for your pooch. Dogs who had the chance to grow and develop with their mom and siblings tend to develop into happy emotionally stable dogs. Dogs who’ve had a rough puppyhood are more likely to develop separation anxiety. Contrary to common belief, it’s not just puppies that develop separation anxiety, this disorder can develop at any age. Older dogs who have experienced a traumatic event such as losing a family member or ending up in a shelter are just as likely to develop separation anxiety.
Signs of Separation Anxiety in Your Dog
- Destructive behavior such as chewing, digging, and scratching.
- Excessive drooling
- Increased panting.
- Attempting to escape.
- Obsessively pacing. Indoor accidents
Separation anxiety is essentially your dog having a panic attack when you leave, so your dog will exhibit destructive behaviors when he is left alone or, for some cases, when he knows you’re getting ready to leave.
How to Avoid Separation Anxiety After Covid-19
Leave Him Alone
Go grocery shopping or for a walk without your dog. Make sure he has short bouts of no human interaction. Let him learn, or get reacquainted, with being alone.
Your coming and going should NOT be a big deal. Do not fawn all over Fido as your leaving or coming in giving him kisses and hugs, that just is increasing his energy level. Unspent energy in dogs can become anxiety. Quietly leave and quietly return. If you notice him getting agitated as your leaving give him a treat to take it from a negative to a positive.
Wear Him OUT!
A tired puppy is a happy puppy. Take him out for a long exercise before you need to leave. The physical exertion will lower stress levels leaving your puppy less likely to care too much that your gone.
Make Him Think
Puzzle toys will keep your dog occupied for hours. With his brain thinking about treats and how to get them he doesn’t have time to stress about you not being around.
There are many calming aids available that will help your dog keep his cool while your gone. Essential oils, like lavender, diffused in the air can help him stay calm. Products, such as Adaptil air diffuser, are just plug and go. Chews are also an option which can be layered with oil diffusion
In some severe cases you may need medication may help. Talk to your vet about which medication will best help your dog. Make sure that any over-the-counter products you are using doesn’t interact with medications that are being prescribed.
Worrying whether or not your dog is going to develop a serious mental disorder is what a good dog parent would do. Rest assured that your well-established dog will be fine transitioning back into his old routine. Separation anxiety can literally tare a human dog relationship, it is the number one reason a dog is surrendered to a shelter. This disorder is stressful to both dog and human, but there are plenty of tools to help you if you suspect your dog is suffering from this ailment. Don’t give up dog trainers and behaviorist are always available to help you help your dog.