Over the past 6 months the Covid-19 outbreak has caused disruption throughout the globe. This has forced many people to spend more time in their homes. Of course, our canine companions have loved having extra time to spend with us, however, it is now a very confusing time for dogs as people begin venturing out of their homes again.
Here are our top tips to prepare your dog for spending time alone and how to alleviate any separation anxiety that may occur…
What is separation anxiety in dogs?
Separation anxiety is a behavioural term for when dogs become stressed and frantic when they are left home alone. Petplan found that 41% of owners believed their pets suffered from separation anxiety. In a recent study, conducted by Petplan, pet owners reported that separation anxiety was their biggest post lockdown worry.
Dogs, like us, are pack animals and they thrive on social interaction. As lockdown restrictions lift and normal life returns, the sudden separation can be confusing and disorientating for your dog. It’s likely that the extra time at home will have made your dog increasingly attached to you and can make leaving them alone difficult for both them and you.
The signs of separation anxiety tend to differ from dog to dog, however, the most common symptoms include:
- Increased heart rate
- Barking or howling
- Urinating and defecating
- Chewing, scratching, and other disruptive behaviour
- Panting and salivating
This behaviour can be very upsetting for both of you. So, how do you keep your dogs entertained when home alone?
1. Consider their environment
Dogs love a good view. Make sure your dog has access to a clear window in your house that offers up an interesting view of the street or garden, so your pooch has an Something exciting to look at throughout the day. If you have a dog that prefers to sleep when you’re out, create a comfy den. Make sure they have their bed, blankets, and any comfort toys to make them feel safe and calm. If your dog prefers being in a loud environment, then the television is another way to keep them entertained. YouTube for Dogs is a good place to start or even a doggy radio station such as Positively Pets.
2. Interactive toys
Provide your pooch with something irresistibly exciting. It is best to select something tough so that it lasts them all day. When you arrive home you could reward them with one of our QuattroBones or TrioBones they are perfect for keeping your dog busy as they have a variety of textures and shapes as well as delicious flavours right through to the core. Dogs love a challenge so any toys that involve them completing a puzzle or task to gain treats will keep them entertained for hours.
Create a game of food hide and seek. Dogs love sniffing out food and treats, so before leaving, scatter some treats around the house. Try to mix it up so it doesn’t become a routine, and your pooch will be able to spend their day searching out delicious treats.
4. Get some help
We all know “walkies” is usually our dogs favourite word. Hiring a dog walker or taking your dog to a doggy day care means your dog is getting that much needed social interaction. If you have a social dog that can easily adapt to different environments, then day care may be the perfect solution. If your dog prefers to be around humans rather than dogs, then finding a dog walker that they are comfortable with will ensure they get their daily exercise. It’s also a good idea to ask friends, family or even neighbours if they can pop round – who wouldn’t want to get their daily dose of doggy love?
You could also get help in the form of a canine companion. Adopting a second dog is a big responsibility, but the right sibling for your fur baby can mean a lifelong friendship. Consider a dog with similar behaviours and energy levels and ensure you introduce them slowly before leaving them alone together.
5. Calm your dog
If your dog is already suffering from separation anxiety when you’re not at home, you can try applying a combination of dog friendly calming essential oils (lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, wild orange, and frankincense – whichever smells best to you) onto your pet’s bedding. You can also purchase calming treats, collars, sprays, and diffusers which all work to alleviate anxiety.
Keeping your dog stimulated while you’re away is vital to their mental wellbeing and good health. While nothing can replace a good old-fashioned walk in the park with their favourite person, experimenting with these ideas can make it that bit easier to say goodbye to your pooch when you head out.
If you’re not venturing out and still working from home, check out our tips for managing your dog whilst working from home.