Posted 42d ago
While many parents rejoice that the kids are back to school for some peace and quiet, it can be a challenging time for our canine companions.
Even more so, if the adults are also returning to the office after lockdown.
Pets will now be spending more time alone and the sudden change back to ‘normal’ life may come as a shock to our dogs, who have gotten used to their owners always being at home.
To help dog owners prepare their pets for the ‘return of normality’, the team here at TeamDogs has teamed up with Pets at Home to share their advice on how to make the transition as smooth as possible.
Top tips to help prepare your dog for the return of normality:
Watch out for signs of separation anxiety
All dogs are different, so naturally some will find it more difficult to adapt to spending more time alone than others.
As your pet can’t tell you they feel separation anxiety, it’s important that you look out for certain clues that may suggest they don't like being left alone.
These can often include changes in behaviour when they spot you are getting ready to go out, making noises when you leave, unexpected toilet accidents and destructive behaviour.
Introduce a strict routine
Predictability can help to reduce stress in dogs, so it’s a good idea to have a daily routine in place that your dog is familiar with.
Some things you should consider, include:
- Keep to the same hours – Make sure you stick to the same times when getting up and going to bed. This way your pet will know when they’ll be let in and out or have their last toilet break of the evening.
- Mealtimes – Stick to regular mealtimes for your dog to stop them from wondering when dinner is going to appear.
- Regular exercise – Try taking your dog on a walk or letting them out at the same time, this way they won’t be anxious and wondering when they will be allowed out.
Remind them of their independence
Most dogs have the skills to be left alone safely, whether you’re just in the next room or when you leave to go out.
Try reminding them of their independence by spending time in a different room, or pop them in their crate for a while. You can even leave a radio on for them to provide background noise.
Once they are comfortable with this, practice leaving them alone for longer periods. Just make sure they always have plenty of safe toys to keep them occupied, and a comfy place to rest.
If your dog is very young and has never been left before, remember that they’re likely to need to go to the toilet more frequently than older dogs.
When teaching them about being left, limit their time alone and, where possible, time it for when they’ve had a play and would normally be going for a nap.
Don’t make a big fuss when you leave or come back to your dog
Dogs can predict when we’re about to leave them by spotting subtle cues and signals we’re giving out.
It’s important you don’t make a big fuss when you leave or come back to your pet, as that only makes it more rewarding.
Instead, greet them calmly once you’ve got indoors and have put your keys away. If you make leaving and returning less of an event, it can help pets to feel more relaxed.
Keep your dog occupied
Separation-related issues aren’t always caused by anxiety of being left alone – some pets get bored on their own and may entertain themselves by taking apart your soft furnishings or chewing on your cupboard handles.
To help avoid this, be sure to supply your four-legged friend with plenty of toys and treats before leaving them for long periods of time.
Dr Karen Heskin, Head of Pets at Pets at Home Group, explained to TeamDogs : “Many pets thrive with predictability and can find a change of routine unsettling. Regardless of whether you have an older or a younger pet, it’s possible they will become stressed or anxious as they return to being left alone for longer periods.
“There are some things you can put in place that will help your pet get used to the idea of you not always being around, but it’s important you introduce these as early as you can to get them ready for the change.”
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