Ever since COVID-19 changed the world, its presence has impacted every facet of our lives. There have only been a few positives to have emerged from the pandemic - one of them is that we have been able to spend a lot more of our time at home with our beloved pets.
Pre-lockdown, our dogs were perhaps more accustomed to spending long periods of the daytime - while we’re at work - resting, patrolling our properties, and waiting for our return. Now that we have been back at home for over a year, have our dogs grown even more attached and devoted to us (and us, them?)
With day-to-day life beginning to show signs of returning to normality, how will our animals cope? After all, dogs are creatures of habit and they love their routines. A break in their new daily patterns may cause some anxiety for them. So what can we do to elevate their discomfort?
Janine Pemberthy, Canine Behaviourist and Training Manager at Battersea, says:
“It’s important to start the process of introducing your dog to a 'normal' post-lockdown routine, whatever that will mean for you, as soon as possible before your working and socialising habits shift back.
Giving both you and your dog time to readjust to their old routine, or to get used to a brand new one that they might not have experienced yet will really help.”
As part of our Canine Care series, we have come up with some ways to ease your pet’s transition back to the way home life was pre-COVID-19, and alleviate any separation anxiety your beloved hound might have.
What is separation anxiety?
Separation anxiety comes about in some of our dogs when they find themselves left at home for long periods of time. Their anxiety manifests itself in the form of excessive paw-licking, howling, barking, panting, extreme salivation, and indoor urination and defecation. Destructive behaviour like chewing furniture and household items may also occur.
There are a few ways to help minimise the chances of your four-legged mate getting anxious at being alone. Read on for some handy tips.
1. Introduce a new daily routine
The gradual introduction of a day-to-day routine or a return to your pre-lockdown way of doing things is the way forward. Dogs thrive on established routine, so be consistent about when you go for walks, feed, groom, and play with them. Introduce these regular practices in combination with the other tips before you return to your more regular working patterns.
2. Keep your greetings normal and routine
On arrival, or before you leave your home for work, begin to greet your dog without showing too much happiness or sadness. Showing too much emotion will heighten the feelings of stress and anticipation. Establish a routine when you are leaving them alone for a few hours, use a phrase like, “I’ll see you soon, be good.” Dogs love order; it helps them prepare for what comes next. It is always best to go out once your dog has been suitably exercised, emptied, and fed. This way they start their day content and ready for a nap.
3. Regulate skin-to-skin contact
During lockdown, your dog got used to your presence once more, and they probably loved the extra attention of a few extra snacks, strokes and cuddles. Touch intensifies a feeling of dependency in your pets, and for some it makes it harder for them to cope alone. As lockdown dies down, establish a limited pattern of behaviour where you can play and touch your dog, to wean them off very regular skin-to-skin contact. Another good solution to help your dog through the day is to let them have an old item of clothing with your scent on it to ease their nerves. They can keep it in their basket and sleep with it through the day until you return home.
4. Start leaving your dog in a different room
Before you return to your pre-COVID-19 routine, leave your pooch in a different room with the door closed for a short length of time. By doing this daily, they can begin to get used to being by themselves once more. Each time, increase their time alone; this is a good way for your pet to become accustomed to the change gradually. Leave your dog with one of their favourite toys and remove any hazards and precious items out of the room if you think your dog is likely to chew or break them through nervousness.
5. Buy your dog some puzzles and treats
An active mind is a wonderful distraction. Why not buy your dog some puzzle toys that unlock treats, or large bones for them to gnaw on? Take a look at dog-enrichment toys which are effective stimuli and can often stop your hound from getting bored and lonely. Toys, puzzles, and treats are all positive indicators that you care and that being alone isn’t too bad after all. While it can be tough to see your dog in anguish, it is advisable to ignore it and not endorse bad behaviour. All the same, it is also vital to reward your pooch when they are successful and well-behaved.
It’s also possible to make enrichment toys quite cheaply and with ease. Read our guide with some helpful tips for making DIY dog toys and treats.
More information about separation anxiety
For a more in-depth viewpoint on how to keep your dog happy after you have returned to your post-COVID-19 work routines, read Battersea's helpful article. It offers detailed insights on how to help your dearest and best avoid becoming depressed and overwhelmed when you are away from home.
Reward your pooch with a dog-friendly holiday
After a few months at work, why not reward your dog’s success with a holiday break to one of our self-catering dog-friendly cottages? We have properties to give you and your four-legged friend the best holiday ever. All that waiting and time apart can be put on hold in a new environment on a dog-friendly holiday. What could be better than that?
Our partnership with Battersea
At Canine Cottages, we're thrilled to team up with Battersea in a partnership built on shared values. This will allow our team to support Battersea in its incredible work, ensuring our beloved dogs have all the love and attention they deserve. And our new pals at Battersea are just as excited as we are about working together.
You can sign up for The Battersea Way, Battersea's pet advice emails, or treat your dog to a well-deserved holiday by browsing our collection of paw-friendly cottages.
Battersea Dogs & Cats Home is a registered charity in England and Wales (Registered Charity No: 206394)
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing,
please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.