We have all had to get used to what a COVID-19 Isolation world is like and that goes for our dogs too! No doubt you were thinking at the beginning of lock down and isolation that being home all the time for your dog was the best! I know that’s what they thought too!
Have you slowly begun to notice over these weeks that there is more panting or pacing when they know you’re popping out to the shops? Oh and they know! You’re putting your shoes on and they’re suddenly licking their lips more? Have they started to cry or bark when you’re leaving them when they never did before to only drop the rubbish in the bin? These are signs of potential separation anxiety.
Dogs thrive on routine and retaining social networks. You need to maintain it them at all costs or when it comes time for our lives to get back to normal and you’re back in the office, you’ll have a very stressed dog on your hands. Adopted a brand new puppy? Dog daycare could be the answer! Most professional dog daycares take young puppies and positive socialisation experiences are crucial for setting them up for life. They’re also a great place to exert energy and learn new skills.
With so many adopting new puppies into their world at this time do not underestimate the training you need to do to leave them alone. You have to teach them its okay to be by themselves. Build up their confidence slowly. Now is the perfect time to train them that being home alone for a few hours is okay.
Even with older dogs getting back into the habit of being okay at home alone is important. Try doing ‘short leaves’. Leaving them for a short amount of time and building up. Have a safe place like a crate or penned off area where they can go. Remove yourself from your home, somewhere far enough away where they can’t smell your presence. Put the timer on your phone for 10 mins to begin with. When they are quiet, and not before, return inside…..ignore them and once they have become distracted with something else make the biggest scene you can by being super excited. Everything on your terms also reminds them who is the leader. The idea behind ignoring them when you first enter is to now fuel their anxiety. You leaving shouldn’t a big deal for them. If you make a big deal of a situation when they are acting upset or stressed then they will thing its the right and normal way to be. Calm, relaxed energy and a you’ll be right attitude will rub off. The of course when they have forgotten all about it go crazy with your hugs.
It will take time and build it up slowly. Leaving a note for your neighbours before you start is always courteous, telling them you do will be crying for a short time. Giving them brief run down of how you’re teaching your pup to be by themselves to set them up for life. It will save the extra stress for you too.
They give us everything so the least we can do is give them the tools to be a well rounded dog.