Experts Advise Pet Owners to Start Planning Now to Prevent Dog Separation Anxiety Post-Quarantine:
Now that some states are working towards re-opening, people are preparing to return to their workplaces, therefore being gone for several hours a day again. As a result, several of our clients have reached out to us, expressing their concern as to how their pets will react once they are alone again during the day.
“Try starting now to get your pet ready and ease them back to your previously ‘normal’ routine,” a pet behavior expert said
Most of our pups, and perhaps some cats, have been loving the extra time they are getting with their humans during these past several weeks, but with some states easing restrictions, this may be coming to an end.
Experts at Best Friends Animal Society, the nation’s largest no-kill animal welfare organization, are advising pet owners to start prepping their fur-babies for the time when they won’t be with their moms and dads all day, every day.
Some pets might react to this change by showing signs of dog separation anxiety, even when they’ve never had it before. They are as follows:
- Barking, howling, or whining when you leave, especially if it lasts longer than 30 seconds.
- Scratching or chewing at doors & windows.
- Destructive behavior that only happens when your pup is alone.
- Over-grooming or other self-harm or obsessive behaviors.
- Any change in appetite.
To avoid your pup getting stressed out, and to protect your home from getting torn up, Janelle Metiva CPDT-KA, a dog behavior specialist at Best Friends Animal Society in Los Angeles, has created a plan to help pet owners prepare their pups for when their people start to transitioning schedules back to “normal.”
Our pets don’t like sudden change, so by starting the process beforehand, it will be much easier to get them back into their previous routines.
Get Prepared Now: Tips to Prevent Dog Separation Anxiety
To get your pups prepared for a little more alone time, Metiva suggests these steps:
- Create a safe and comfy space where they can have relaxing alone time. This could be their crate or a separate room, as long as it’s in the quietest part of your house.
- Provide them with enrichment that they can enjoy independently, such as hidden treats, food puzzles, and stuffed Kongs.
- Play soothing music such as reggae or jazz, or leave the TV on softly to keep them from getting worked up by outside noises.
- Start rewarding your dog for calm, independent behavior. Typically, we pay attention to them when they’re active or even misbehaving. They should also be rewarded for being calm and chill.
- Practice leaving for short periods of time without them.
If your dog does show signs of anxiety, decrease the amount of time that you leave, even if for just a few seconds.
If your dog barks or scratches at the door when you leave, come back only when they’re quiet.
In the scenario that your dog is truly having issues being alone for even short periods of time, your best plan would be to contact a dog trainer that has knowledge with this issue. I know several that I’d be happy to refer you to!
Cat Separation Anxiety
And lets’ not leave the kitties out…however they may actually be excited for when you return to work.
“Despite stereotypes that say otherwise, many cats form very close bonds with their humans and can become quite stressed when apart,” Samantha Bell, a cat behavior specialist with Best Friends Animal Society, said.
Cat separation anxiety signs include lots of loud meowing, overgrooming themselves, and going potty on their owner’s items.
Tips to Prevent Cat Separation Anxiety
Bell’s top tips for cat owners who plan to return to their workplace are:
- Play with your cat and their wand toy at least once a day. Allowing them the opportunity to hunt, catch and kill with an interactive toy will help build their confidence and strengthen their bond with you.
- Make sure that the adjustments you’ve made to their routine while being home are sustainable when you go back to work. For example, if you’ve started feeding your cats more often while you’re home, start cutting it back to what is realistic once you return to work.
- She also recommends using puzzle-feeders, which frankly I didn’t realize was a thing for cats. Cats instinctively want to search for their food and puzzle-feeders are great tools for providing enrichment when they are alone.
Cats can also sense people’s emotions. So, when it is time to go back to work, don’t make a sad, dramatic scene about how Mommy is going to miss them today….which I am definitely guilty of doing with my pups. Instead, use a happy, easy going tone combined with a treat as you leave to help them to feel calm and not stressed out.
By taking these steps now, pet owners can help prevent stress for both themselves and their fur-babies in the future! Our dog walking services can also help you manage dog seperation anxiety as you go back to work.