September 11th
Separation Anxiety in Dogs

In my own household, I have three kids, my husband and a German Shepherd named Roxy.  Roxy turned one in July, which means that half of her life was spent under the COVID-19 lifestyle. All five of us have been home every day, going for lots of family walks, playing together in the backyard and giving her extra love and attention. Then this week everything changed. My daughter started school on Tuesday, my middle son started on Wednesday and finally my oldest son went back to school on Thursday. One by one, Roxy lost her playmates. No more running around the house, no more playing soccer in the backyard and a lot less human interaction. As we dropped the kids off at school every morning and returned with one kid less each time, Roxy displayed signs of anxiety. She barked and nosed my husband and I as we drove home each morning, and if she could speak, she would probably ask “Where did they go? Why didn’t they come back with you? When are they coming back?”

Every pet is different and so is their ability to handle change. As you are getting ready to make modifications in your own routine, consider these tips to help your pet adjust to their new routine as well.

Before you return to school/work

  • Reduce some of the attention you give your pet as you prepare to leave them home alone. (I know from experience, it’s easier said than done!)
  • Leave the house for short periods at a time without your pet, like a walk around the block, then increase the time away from home gradually.
  • Just before you leave, consider taking your dog for a brisk walk to help them burn off some energy.
  • Consult a professional dog trainer. Many offer classes that teach positive reinforcement and can help with the transition to a new routine.
  • If you don’t feel comfortable leaving your dog home alone, consider putting them in doggy daycare or hiring a dog walker to take them for a walk while you are away.
  • Changing your pet’s routine could take time, but once you establish it, it’s important to maintain it. Pets don’t typically react well to sudden drastic changes. Try to keep walks, meals, the time you leave and your departure routine the same every day. 

While you are away

  • Leaving your pet with a feeder toys provide a yummy snack and help keep pets occupied.
  • Leaving TV or radio on could provide a welcome distraction.
  • If your dog seems overly anxious, Adaptil (calming pheromone) offers various products to help calm your dog that can be purchased from your veterinarian or at some pet stores.
  • If you are worried that your dog may be destructive while you are away, crating is a good option to keep them safe and out of trouble. 

When you come back

  • Make your arrivals and departures calm and no big deal. Do not make a big fuss over your dog or be overly emotional when you leave the house or when you first arrive home.

Some pets will have a harder time with separating from their family members compared to others. Do not scold your dog for displaying anxious behaviour. Anxiety is a symptom of stress, not disobedience or spite.

By: Anya Barradas, Manager, Marketing and Communications