A Short Guide on Pet Separation Anxiety
For the past few months, millions of people have stayed home to slow the spread of COVID-19. Pets have settled into routines of having their families with them all the time. As states across the United States lift COVID-19 restrictions and many return to their workplaces, pets may be unprepared to handle long days at home alone.
Separation-anxiety occurs when a dog that’s attached to the owner gets agitated when that guardian prepares to leave. Usually, right after a guardian leaves a dog with separation anxiety, the dog will begin barking and displaying other distress behaviors within a short time after being left alone. When left alone, your pet might exhibit destructive or disruptive behavior. Dogs might urinate, bark, howl, chew, or dig straight through your favorite oriental rug. Many pets seem anxious or depressed before their guardians’ departure or when their guardians aren’t present. Some try to prevent their guardians from leaving. Pacing, often obsessively, is another sign of separation anxiety.
There are some steps parents can take to prepare their pets for the most seamless return to a normal routine and pacify separation anxiety. Below is a collection of tips from different sources.
Tips and Tricks
Toys and activities allow pets to interact with their environments positively, according to this New York Times article. Along with reducing the feeling of anxiety due to separation, toys smooth the gratification of pets’ exercise requirements. Stuff a rubber Kong toy with mashed banana, yogurt, or peanut butter; place the Kong toy on your dog’s space as you head out the door. A kibble-dispensing puzzle toy is another great investment for keeping dogs entertained and occupied.
Behave quietly and calmly when exiting or entering your home. It’s important to attend to the normal day-to-day tasks, according to the Oakland Veterinary Referral Services. This will traverse the contrast between times when you are home and times when you are gone. Responding in an emotional manner when you leave or arrive home reinforces your pet’s anxiety.
The ASPCA suggests that owners create a designated place for their dogs and cats to spend time away from the activity of remote work. This space can be a favorite bed, corner of the couch, or a window perch. You can also keep your pet in a room and close the door or use a baby gate. Play the radio or turn on the television to keep your pet company and mask the sounds of other activities in the house.
Stephanie Borns-Weil, from Tufts University’s Cummings Veterinary Medical Center, encourages pet owners to design and adhere to a routine. Stick to regular meals and walk times for your pet and organize time slots for social interactions and playing.
Leave your house more frequently and increase the duration each time. This will help your pet adjust to the idea of you being away, and that you will always come back, according to Northeast Animal Hospital. Pets can recognize details in your daily routine. If you normally wear certain clothes for work, carry an item, or give them a special treat before you leave, begin these habits again as you leave for your excursions.
It’s understandable for owners to want to spend as much time with their furry friends. However, it’s important to recognize that quarantine has had a psychosocial and emotional burden on pets. We must remember that returning to “normalcy” involves being in tune with your pet’s—and maybe your own—personality changes and taking proactive steps to ensure a smooth transition.