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RETURNING TO WORK: HELPING YOUR PET WITH SEPARATION ANXIETY

As more and more of the world is heading back to work and into the office, those pandemic puppies might not know what to do with themselves. When it comes to leaving your dog at home for long periods of time, you’ll need to ease them into your new routine. We have all you need to know about the signs of separation anxiety and measures you can take to make sure your dog can be comfortable when it needs to be left alone.


Signs of Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is more than just a little bark every now and then or an occasional scratch at the door. Your dog might be experiencing true separation anxiety if he or she behaves in one or more of the following ways:

  • Excessive barking or howling
  • Destructive chewing
  • Digging into the floor or furniture, for example, or trying to escape through doors or windows
  • “Using the bathroom” indoors
  • Pacing around the house
  • Whining when he or she doesn’t usually
  • Drooling or panting more than normal

How to Treat Separation Anxiety

We recommend first talking to your vet about any serious concerns with your pet. The doctor will be able to explain any necessary steps you should take that would best fit your dog’s personality and help with this issue apart from generalized recommendations. If you’d rather give it a try yourself first to help your dog cope with separation, we have a few pointers to calm your pet’s nerves each time you leave the house.


Give A Special Treat

Each time you leave, give your dog a treat that he doesn’t get at any other time of day. It should be something he or she loves and can distract him from you walking out the door. Make sure it’s something you feel comfortable leaving with him while you’re gone though.


Tire Them Out

All dogs need exercise, regardless of their breed. Some need more than others, of course, but it’s important to give them at least some form of physical activity daily. Doing so right before you leave can help tire them out so they won’t be as concerned about your leaving for the day.


Change Your Cues

When they hear you start to get dressed, brush your teeth, or put on makeup in the morning, it may trigger some anxiety. Other triggers could be putting on your jacket, picking up your briefcase or purse, or grabbing your car keys. Try doing some of these things from time to time without leaving. When you’re just hanging around the house for the day, go over and pick up your keys, carry them around, set them back down, and take a seat back on the couch. This action will help show your pet that these cues don’t always mean that you’re leaving him or her alone. Over time, it will help their anxiety subside so they’re not as nervous every time you do one of these routine things.

 

Tone Down the Greeting

Don’t draw attention to your coming or going by talking to your dog when you’re headed out of the house or by excessively greeting them when you get home. Keeping it low key will show them that leaving is casual and that you’ll return! It’ll show them it’s not a big deal that you may leave for a bit.


Other Options to Avoid Separation Anxiety

Over time, these methods above may help with mild or moderate signs of separation anxiety. If your dog shows advanced signs, you may want to consider other options.

  • Take your dog to the office. We’re sure they’d love to join you!
  • Have a dog sitter or friend swing by during the day to break up the time that you’re apart from your dog.
  • Give them a puzzle or intellectually stimulating toy that can help keep them occupied. Mental stimulation is just as exhausting - if not more! - for dogs, especially puppies.

We know that every dog is different in their routines, habits, and personalities. Only you can tell if your dog is showing signs of separation anxiety or if they’re just nervous nellies. It’s up to you to treat your dog in the way you think is best! Consult with your veterinarian or even friends, family, and significant others to figure out what’s best for your furry family member.