Your dog may not suffer from separation anxiety now, but if he's enjoyed spending every moment of his day with you for several weeks, the end of the lockdown may come as quite a shock to him. This could result in some bad behaviour, including inappropriate toiletting and destruction. In fact, the Queen's dog trainer himself shared his concerns over the subject just last week, explicitly mentioning that there would be a wave of anxiety from pets when owners return to work.
Though dog owners believe their pets are happier in the short-term, there are still a few simple things you can do to make sure the switch goes as smoothly as possible. And as with all prevention training methods, the sooner you start, the better!
The following techniques involve making sure your dog keeps some of his independence throughout the duration of the lockdown and doesn’t become overly dependent on your presence.
1. Keep them in a different room while you work
If your dog usually stays in a certain part of the house while you are at work, try to keep him there while you work from home too. You can close the door of the room you are studying in and leave your dog on the other side with his bed and a stuffed Kong to keep him busy.
2. Do not take them with you when you go shopping
We're not allowed to go out for much these days, but when you do go out, avoid taking your dog if you can! It's good to remind your dog how to be alone in the house from time to time, so next time you go shopping, leave him behind!
3. Practice your ‘leaving’ routine several times a week (minimum)
Since we don't have many reasons to leave the house now, going shopping once a week may not be sufficient to remind your dog what it's like to be alone. So try to practice your ‘leaving the house’ routine a few times a week, even if you don't leave for long. For example, pick up your coat, your bag, and your keys, and walk out the door. Come back several seconds or minutes after, providing your dog hasn't been whining or barking. Ignore him when you re-enter the house, just to de-dramatize the situation.
This is certainly a strange time for us all, but in the end we must make the most of it! Enjoy this precious time with your beloved pooches!