Separation Anxiety: How Returning to Work May Affect our Pets

At least some of us have enjoyed quarantine…our pets! Every pet’s dream is for their owner to never leave them, and the recent lockdowns have granted their wishes. But, what happens when we finally all go back to work and start traveling again? Canine experts say that lifting shelter-in-place restrictions could cause extreme separation anxiety in pets, especially dogs, who’ve grown accustomed to their owners’ constant companionship during lockdown.
Dr. Karen Sueda, a veterinary behaviorist, says, “Our pets thrive on consistency and predictability, as we all do, so any time there’s an abrupt change, it can cause stress.”

Symptoms of separation anxiety include accidents in the house, barking, chewing, digging, destruction, pacing, and attempting to escape. However, there are ways to make your pets feel more comfortable and safer during this transition.

Hire a Pet Sitter
PSI, the leading pet-sitter association, urges pet owners to search for professional pet sitters. Here at Dog Bone, we will be available to check in on your pets during the day for dog walks, kitty visits, potty breaks for new puppies, or other pet-care services. Having someone check in on your pet while you’re gone can make all the difference and ease their anxiety.

Teach them that time away is normal
Don’t make a big deal when you leave for the day or when you return. This way, you are communicating to your pet that the time apart is no big deal. It’s just business as usual. Don’t worry, your pet won’t have his feelings hurt if you didn’t say goodbye.

Counter-conditioning can change a pet’s negative reaction to a situation by introducing them to something positive that happens when you leave. For instance, try giving your pet a kong filled with a treat when you leave for the day. This will also keep them busy and ease the anxiety.

Give them something to listen to
Play an audio book or leave the TV on. The sound of a human’s voice can help reduce their stress while you’re not at home.

Speak to your vet
Although not always necessary, in some cases there are medications that may help your pet cope with anxiety while you are working on the behavior.

Consult with a professional trainer
There are some great positive-reinforcement based trainers out there that can give personalized advice for your situation, helping you to reward positive behavior and establish a routine and rituals that work for your lifestyle.

Your pet will eventually learn that you’re always going to come home at the end of the day and that there is nothing to worry about! As pet owners, we want to do anything we can to make sure our pets are safe, healthy, and comfortable. These tips should help your pet stay calm when the old normal returns.

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