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Going back to work? Dog Separation Anxiety in wake of COVID-19

Going back to work? Dog Separation Anxiety in wake of COVID-19

An unexpected surprise that has come from the COVID-19 chaos has been nearly empty shelters! Shelters have seen a huge jump in dog adoptions in the last six months. Many people who had been considering adopting a dog decided this was the perfect time to do so!

Many dogs who were languishing in shelters are now being given a home of their own and the happiness they so deserve…

“Working from home has allowed us the time we needed to properly introduce a dog to our family”, says Mark and his wife Ashely, both teachers. “Before this, we talked about it a lot, but it just never seemed like the right time. We could not be happier with George!”; a German Shepard, Golden Retriever mix they adopted from their local shelter. “The kids absolutely adore him, and he has brought so much joy to all of us. We can’t imagine life without him.”

Susan Sullivan, a mortgage broker who lives alone says, “Companionship during scary, stressful times” is one reason she decided to adopt a dog. In April, Susan adopted a female Pitbull mix named April! “I was lonely, socially distancing from everyone, and I thought about what I could offer a dog that was also lonely, sitting in a shelter.” Susan considered fostering at first, but after taking April home for a trial run, she said, “I knew immediately!”

Right now, Susan is still working from home full time, but her company plans to bring people back to the office part-time in the next month or two.

“I may never go back to a 40-hour work week, but even leaving April part-time will take some getting used to, and I want to prepare her for that now, while I can do it slowly.” Susan also shared that April’s first family abandoned her, adding, “I just want her to understand that she can feel safe here, and this is her forever home. She’s an awesome dog.”

If you or a friend are considering adopting a rescue dog right now, ease the transition and process with our Rescue Dog Bundle.

No more PJs all day?

Whether we want to or not, some of us will stop working in our PJs and return to our offices. This will be a major change in routine for dogs who are accustomed to having their owners home full time, and for some, it may be a difficult transition.
Being pack animals, our dogs would like nothing more than to be with us 24/7! And when left alone, they can suffer from varying levels of separation anxiety, which if not addressed quickly, may become difficult to deal with and treat. Learn to recognize the signs of anxiety in your dog.

RELATED: DOES YOUR PET DOG SUFFER FROM ANXIETY? 

In addition to anxiety, being alone can result in boredom and depression. Dogs may even become withdrawn, which can impact their appetite, and lead to lethargy and digestive issues.

Be Prepared!

The most important thing you can do to prevent separation anxiety in dogs is to prepare in advance. The good news is, with a little time, patience, and consistency, you and your new best friend can make this transition smoothly, while developing an even closer bond along the way!

Steps you can take to prepare your new rescue dog for when you return to work:

1. Set a schedule

Define a set schedule as soon as possible! Just like children, dogs benefit greatly from routine and predictability, knowing what to expect and when.
Establishing this schedule is key to making your back to work transition go smoothly, with as little stress as possible.
And just as your dog has learned when it’s time to eat, when it’s time to play, and when it’s time for bed, they will also learn when it’s time for you to go to work.
Most importantly, they will learn that you always come home, and this will become just another part of “the routine”.

2. Introduce Alone Time

To reduce the chances of your dog developing separation anxiety, start leaving them home alone for short periods of time, gradually working up to longer amounts.
One tactic to help introduce your pup to the idea of alone time is to leave them alone while you are still home. While you are still in the house, put your dog in another room where they are by themselves for a half hour or an hour. Make sure that they are in a familiar room, where they have their bed and some toys with them.

3. Don’t Cause Commotion

When you leave, be calm, quiet, and consistent in what you say and do. Put your coat on or pick up your keys 10-15 minutes before you leave. Say a simple phrase like, “I’ll be home soon.” Always say the same thing before you leave.
And as hard as it may be, the experts agree, do not be overly enthusiastic upon returning. Greet your dog in a low key way, and allow them to settle down for a few minutes. Admittedly, this is hard to do. But, these actions will reinforce the sense of calm you want your dog to feel about the time you are away and reduce their anxiety about being alone.

4. Allow some time and be prepared.

Dog separation anxiety can be a very challenging issue, and despite your efforts to be prepared, it may still take your dog a little time to adjust. Dogs are fast learners, and as long as you are consistent, these steps will help keep your dog feeling happy, calm, and confident!

There may be accidents.

Some accidents may simply be due to your dog being used to going out more frequently. But some may be due to stomach upset brought on by the stress of change, resulting in vomiting and/or diarrhea. Going back to work will be a transition for you too, and the last thing you want to do when you get home is go back out to the store and cook a bland diet for your dog! Luckily being prepared for accidents is easy with bland diets and probiotic products for dogs. Purchase separately or bundle and save!

RELATED: BLAND DIET OPTIONS FOR DOGS 

Doggie boredom may also cause accidents and “acting out” behaviors such as incessant barking, or destructive chewing. It’s important to note that barking and chewing can occur not only when a dog is feeling anxious, but also when they are just simply bored. More solutions for preventing boredom in the section below.

RELATED: WHY ALL THE BARKING? 

More suggestions to ease dog separation anxiety and dog boredom:

  • Make sure your dog is getting enough exercise before you leave. Burn off that excess energy for a happy, calm, and tired dog!
  • If it’s within your budget, hire a dog walker, pet sitter, or enroll in a Doggy Daycare.
  • Ask a friend, family member, or neighbor to stop by to check on your dog, let them out, or just spend a little time with them.
  • Leave the radio on or play an audiobook. The sound of human voices can be very comforting for dogs, especially if they are used to hearing it when you are around.
  • Give them toys to keep them entertained and stimulated. Fill a bone with peanut butter, or a KONG toy with small treats that take time to retrieve.

RELATED: HOMEMADE KONG FILLERS 

Need a little extra help?

There are doggy calming treats like Calming Chews For Dogs and Hemp Calming Chews For Dogs. These all-natural products can be given 45 minutes before any type of stressful event, including leaving for work! Learn more about the power of CBD for treating anxiety in dogs. 

Don’t give up!

If you have followed these guidelines, and your dog is still dealing with separation anxiety, don’t give up, there is help out there! Start by talking to your vet. They can recommend further options such as anxiety medication, and behavior modification.
And for the many of us who are still working from home and considering adopting a dog, here are five important things to consider before adoption. 

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