If there’s anyone who’s ecstatic about the COVID-19 pandemic, it is probably our dogs! WIth people working from home, spending more time indoors than ever due to fears of outbreaks and lockdowns, we are spending more time with our dogs than ever before. Our dogs have developed a different kind of bond with us during the pandemic, offering love, companionship and support during these tough times. But this can be cause for concern once the pandemic is finally over and we are allowed back out.

This is because our dogs will have to adjust to being alone in the home for several hours when you head back to a regular routine, which can be confusing and traumatic to a dog, especially one who has been adopted during the pandemic and has never before been left alone for long periods of time. A dog may suffer from separation anxiety, causing him to become overly clingy, become very vocal or even act out or indulge in self-harm behaviours. 

Part of the responsibility of being a pet owner is helping them deal with these emotions and make the return to work smoother, both for yourself and your pet. Excessive levels of stress and anxiety could even lead to physical conditions, such as a weakened immune system, diarrhea, inappropriate urination, weight loss and more.

If your dog is suffering from separation anxiety, here are a few tips to help:

Create a routine

Even while you are working from home or amidst a lockdown, stick to your dog’s regular routines. Set a wakeup time, food schedule as well as taking them out on walks regularly. Schedule in some time during the day to let your dog play alone and try and head out of the house without them. This will help them get used to being alone in the house. 

You may also try desensitising them to your departure by deviating from your own leaving home routine. Dogs are very good at picking up cues and will learn to associate the sound of your keys and picking up your bag with your departure. Change up the routine by picking up your keys and bag but not actually leaving the house. This could help desensitise your dog to your typical departure cues.

Enlist the help of a neighbour or friend

Dogs are social animals and need human company. The best solution to treating a dog with separation anxiety is to hire a dog walker or doggy day carer, or a friend or neighbour to drop by the house while you’re away. As long as there is someone in the house, your dog should be happy.

Encourage alone time

Allow your dog to spend some time away from you during the day and train them to play with their toys. You could do this by smearing dog safe foods on them to make them more attractive. However, check with your mobile vet if doing so is safe, as too much free feeding and treats could lead to obesity in certain dogs. Try different kinds of toys and change up the toys frequently. If the dog keeps playing with the same things every day, they could lose their novelty and your dog can lose interest. 

Change up their feeding methods

Eating the same thing from the same place is no fun. To keep your dog busy while you’re away, invest in some innovative feeding techniques like puzzle feeders, chew toys, Kong toys and scatter feeds. Not only will they ensure your dog is well-fed but doesn’t overeat while you are away, they will also keep your dog’s brain busy as it activates its foraging and hunting skills and spends less time thinking about how alone it is in the house.

Take out time for regular exercise

During the pandemic, our dogs have gotten used to going out with us every time we go out. It is important to keep a similar level of activity up even after the pandemic. A good amount of outside playtime, a walk and exercise can help your dog release its pent up energy. A dog who knows that it will go out for a walk with you when you come home is less likely to act out while you are away.

Try using calming sprays and accessories

Certain collars, diffusers, anxiety jackets and calming pheromone sprays are specially designed to help reduce anxiety levels in dogs. They may also be helpful in relieving anxiety if your dog is afraid of loud sounds and thunder.

Get in touch with a professional

If your dog’s anxiety does not seem to be easing even after you’ve tried all of the above, consider getting a professional’s opinion. Whether you need access to a vet in Bundoora or any other suburb in or around Melbourne, you may want to consider choosing a mobile vet so they can analyse your dog’s behaviour inside the house where they are most comfortable.

Author's Bio: 

Hi, I am Aria. I am a passionate blogger. Blogging is my profession. I love to write articles on several topics. Keep up the good work and Have a great day!