Avoiding Separation Anxiety After Lockdown

The Governor’s Stay-At-Home Order is relaxing and is currently set to expire on May 15th. That means more and more people will be returning to work in the coming weeks. In turn, that means another transition for your pets, as they adjust back to their new normal as we adjust to ours.

Separation Anxiety – An Unintended Consequence

Avoiding Separation Anxiety

One of the benefits of this added time at home for many people over the past two months has been the ability to enjoy more time with our families, and consequently our pets. Most of us include as them as “part of the family” right? But there is a downside that you may not have thought of, as they too enjoy more time together with their pack. Separation Anxiety.

Your dog has already adjusted to a new routine of longer or more frequent walks, of more time playing with the kids out of school, perhaps more varied meal times. Maybe more frequent snacks (who isn’t guilty of that!), or even just more time relaxing on the couch together! They have no idea this was always going to be temporary, that this fun time for them will not last forever. That’s when separation anxiety can kick in or return.

Time To Get Back To Old Routines

So, as we slowly return to normalcy in the near future, now is the time to start acclimating your pet to their new schedule/routine. A dog can take a couple of weeks to adjust their mental routine, so start now.

How to Minimize or Avoid Separation Anxiety

  • If your pet previously was used to being in a kennel, start putting them in a kennel for short times while you are still home, or while you are out running errands or getting food from that drive thru.
    • Slowly extend these time periods as you do work around or outside the house.
  • If your pet went to a daycare or to a family member’s home while you went to work, try putting them in a different area of the house in a confined area for short periods of time, then extend those periods slowly.
  • Start getting yourselves and your pets back to regular schedule hours by feeding at the time you normally feed when you work.
  • Stock up on enrichment toys to keep your pet busy when you are away. Chew toys are one of the best ways to ease separation anxiety and keep Fido occupied during periods of alone time.  I prefer hard rubber toys to rawhide or real animal bones, as these animal-tissue equivalents are choking hazards.
    • Give your dog a Kong-type peanut butter cone, frozen low-fat yogurt, or other special treat before you head out. This type of reward should only be used in a leave-return scenario, so your dog associates you leaving with a fun and exciting treat!
  • If going back to work means going to bed earlier, start a bedtime routine so your dog starts to wind down for bedtime as you do.

Contact Compassionate Animal Care

Dog alone at home

You don’t want your pet to have a drastic negative lifestyle change, so think of starting with small steps. Just like us getting back in shape! It will take us a few weeks to get back in physical shape after this lockdown, and it will be the same mental process for your dog, as they get used to their new schedule. So get started now if you expect to be back at work soon.

If you have any questions at all about separation anxiety, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the Compassionate Animal Care team at 480.774.6995, or email us.

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