Your pet dogs deserve your attention, care, and love. Humans share a unique relationship with dogs. Since last year the pet adoptions have increased multifold and aspiring pet parents from across the country adopted pets from pet rescue centers and local shelters.
Their life was fun-filled with these pets, though without social interactions. However, as the situation normalizes, people are going back to work from their offices and many are unable to look after their pets and are even returning their pets to local shelters as they cannot spare time for them now. Some other parents are trying to find new ways to keep the separation hours shorter.
The New Normal Was Pleasant For Your Dogs
Working from home was the new normal during the pandemic. The employee community could turn their home into their office in a professional way. Your dogs could have enjoyed hopping on you, seeking treats during your important business meetings. They must have become habitual to those extra walks that you took along with them opening the door.
Do you need to leave the house?
Now, as the situation normalizes, you must be planning for your normal schedule. For about a year, you might have been working from your home, spending quality time with your furry friends. However, as you start heading back to work, your pets may suffer from separation anxiety as it is called by pet behaviorists. In some cases, this sort of anxiety is found in cats too. However, cats like living alone.
Most cats may be happy as they get the entire home back for them. However, the change in your schedule due to usual working hours may affect the behavioral pattern of your dogs till they get used to it. Separation from owners, who might have developed a positive emotional bond with the pet dog, may lead to critical behavioral issues when you were spending most of the day with him.
What Is Separation Anxiety?
Separation anxiety is a behavioral issue in pet dogs when they are highly attached or dependent on their owners. In the absence of the owners, or when left alone, pet dogs may show signs of being distressed, anxious, and in some cases become destructive as well.
Image from Pixabay by Vizlafotozas
Do your pet dogs frequently go to the door as if they are waiting for you? Do they become destructive and start tearing sheets or clothes? Do they start barking a lot? All these might indicate separation anxiety in your pet dogs. This issue needs to be noticed and rectified as soon as possible to avoid further behavioral issues in your furry friends.
What Are The Causes of Separation Anxiety Among Pet Dogs?
Studies have shown that pet dogs may be more complex than we used to think before. Usually, separation anxiety among pet dogs was believed to be due to a sudden separation from the owner or a person emotionally attached to the pet dog. Yet, they may get anxious due to many other reasons too. We humans sometimes cannot anticipate it.
Situations such as:
- Your return to work after a year-long work at home due to covid-19 restrictions,
- Your kids go to school after their summer vacations.
- A lady returns to work after her maternity leave.
- A family member finds a job after prolonged unemployment and more.
These are some of the situations causing separation anxiety among pet dogs.
Now, the recent study indicates some other reasons for separation anxiety, such as:
- Your pet dogs may weirdly respond to various types of frustrations. Their frustration might have many underlying causes:
- They may be frightened of something in your home.
- It may be due to the boredom of being inside the home all the time. Your dog may desperately want to leave the house for playtime or a walk. And you were unable to do so more frequently due to restrictions
- Your pet dogs may be troubled due to other environmental factors like abrupt noises etc.
What Are The Signs of A Stressed Dog?
Your pet dogs are clever in reading your routine and anticipating what could be your next move. Have you noticed that as you pick up a water bottle, put the litter box, some trash bags, and some tools in your bag, your dog starts running between you and the doors, as it knows now that it is time for a walk?
In the same way, as you wear your uniform or a party outfit, spend a bit more time shaving or doing your hair, and wear your shoes, your dog guesses that you must be going out somewhere. This time, the gestures of your dog may be entirely different. It may start pacing around or feel depressed and come down to your feet as if it requests you not to leave the house. This sign indicates its disagreement.
As you proceed and go out by closing the doors, your dog may start barking at the door in anxiety. It may run to the window to see you and keep barking frequently.
Your dogs may begin destructively chewing whatever comes their way, including your window blinds, curtains, furniture, and even your personal belongings. This is a reflection of their mental stress and separation anxiety. Sometimes, these signs may be found as an outcome of pure boredom.
Some other signs of a stressed dog include,
- Intense licking leading to fur loss or rough skin,
- Changes in their urinating and pooping behavior and place (Your dogs may poop or urinate at unexpected places)
- Denial to have treats or taking treats harshly.
- Widened eyes and surprisingly big pupils
- Breathing short frequently (panting)
- Overexcitement when you are returning home
How Sooner Should You Start To Prepare Your Dog Before You Are Back To Work?
Your dog may be sensitive about you, especially your presence around it, as you would be sparing more time with it continuously during quarantine duration. It requires proper dog training to reduce this sensitivity so that it sustains your absence comfortably. This training requires time and patience, both for the pet owners and dogs.
Your dog may take a few weeks, and in some cases, a few months to get used to this training and behave comfortably in your absence. It is a process in which you initially examine the exact duration before it starts panicking after your departure, and it is left alone. To your surprise, it may be even just a few seconds, to begin with. Its behavior may normalize a little, taking adequate time to settle down.
Importance of dog training
You should design the training as a therapy to maximize reaction time. The idea would be to leave your dog alone, increasing the duration of your absence, day by day. You can even enact like you are going back to work. Change the schedule daily. Thus, the dog would understand that you may need to go out at any hour during the day. You can also prepare a secured site for it to let it cool down.
Gradually, the dog will adjust to the situation, as you might be leaving the house at any hour. You can spare 30 minutes for this exercise. As you convince the dog that you cannot avoid going to your office, it will start to discover some other pastime to keep it busy a little in your absence. Otherwise, provide it with some engaging toys that keep it occupied. Best, give these toys just before you go out. You can also reward it by adding its favorite treats to the menu.
Remedies To Relieve Separation Anxiety Among Your Dogs
To help your dog stay calm in your absence, you can try the following:
Get ready to go out, but sit next to the dog for a little. Alter the duration at every instance. This method controls the sensitivity in your dog about your departure.
Analyze the duration when it starts reacting after you go. Say if it is 10 seconds, come back within 10 seconds and be with it. Gradually, change and increase the duration of your absence so that your dog would be comfortable when you are out for a long span.
Giving some rewards when you depart could be another way to help your dog engage in other things. You can give it some interactive toys that keep it busy for long hours, maybe till you return. Talk to your dog as a reward.
Try aromatherapy, music therapy, or a combination of both using some gadgets. Search and shop for products that include a diffuser and music player.
Consult your trainer, vet, or pet behaviorist to prescribe medicine to tackle this issue.
Why Should You Never Punish Your Dogs?
Yelling or punishments increase your dog’s stress. The expert pet behaviorists suggest that you should reward your pet’s behavior that you like. Positive reinforcement is always better than making them more aggressive. If you punish them during training or whenever they behave weirdly, it may increase their aggression.
Positive reinforcement also helps your pets learn skills quickly and maintain the conduct that receives your appreciation. It encourages your dog to think in the right direction.
What Can Be The Role of Veterinarians In Minimizing Pet Separation Anxiety Among Pet Dogs?
Your pet showed anxiety even after you tried to calm it? Is your pet dog too anxious when you are away? It is advisable to consult a pro veterinarian first to diagnose the issue, decide, and execute a line of treatment for your dog.
Vets can diagnose any underlying medical condition causing anxiety and pain.
Vets can recommend methods or professional pet behaviorists if your dog goes anxious and stressed in your absence.
Vets prescribe medication to relieve stress due to separation anxiety in your dog. Some medicines also minimize panic and problematic behavior.
How Can Daycares Help?
Leaving your dog when you are out for work at daycare could be another good idea. The dogs may not like it at first. Yet, your dogs would remain under the constant supervision of expert dog trainers. Daycares with boarding offer nutritious dog food and treats.
Thus, your dog would socialize and have new companions hence spending the day in such a place and stay happy and calm. Consider this option too.
Tips For Creating A Happy & Healthy Environment For Your Dogs
Your dogs need an environment that encourages them to play and exercise. Stimulating their mind is another concern. If they don’t get these things, they may fall prey to separation anxiety and similar behavioral issues.
Enriching the environment by making it happy and healthy could be the best way to prevent separation anxiety. As the environment at home would be more engaging and entertaining, your dogs would healthily utilize their energy. Such dogs would not seek your extra attention and would not be sad and anxious as you go out.
- Try keeping your dog playful by spending some time for walks and play with them.
- Physical touch and attention through petting mean a lot for them.
- Groom your dog regularly by brushing its teeth, trimming its nails, and more.
- Engage your dog in regular training activities.
- Provide your dog with chews, like bully sticks, rawhide strips, and cow ears.
The Bottom Line
The article covers various aspects of separation anxiety among your dogs. We hope that the points discussed here would help you understand your dog and the behavioral issue better. You can work out a strategy to avoid or minimize separation anxiety, following the tips and the remedies discussed in this article.