Preparing our pets for life after lockdown.
Part of being a responsible owner is preparing your pet for what comes next.
Our beloved four-legged friends have been enjoying the benefits of the extra time we’ve been spending at home – the extra walks, playtime and pats (and, like us, treats!).
As we now start to return to work, school and study, we also need to be mindful that our pets will need to adjust to these changes too.
Here are some tips to help prevent your dog feeling confused as we head back to life after lockdowns.
- Stick to a routine. Dogs, like us, are creatures of habit. Create a routine that includes exercise, rest, enrichment, and alone time during the day. If you’re still working from home, try and head out of the house without them if you can.
- An abrupt change to full time working out of the house will be an even harder transition for younger puppies and kittens as this may be the first time they have been left alone for a prolonged period. It is important that they have adequate stimulation such as ‘safe’ toys – items such as slow-release treat balls – and quality time with you before and after work.
- Encourage your dog to play with their toys. You can make toys more interesting by smearing wet dog food or a small amount of peanut butter on them. Some dogs prefer different types of toys, so try a variety if they don’t seem interested.
- Exercise is important, within your dog’s own capabilities. Care needs to be taken during the transition period to ensure that your pet is still getting adequate exercise for health and stimulation and that they are not fed excessively.
- Make sure that their vaccinations are up to date before heading out with them.
- Invest in training. You don’t need to handle the changes on your own – help is available.
- Promote calm behaviour. Reward and reinforce a calm state of mind so that when you leave the house they are not in a heightened state of anxiety. Our trainer can show you how to do this.
Recognising separation anxiety
While most pets will cope with being alone for a period of time, many will suffer from separation anxiety, and it is important to recognise the signs and seek help from a professional if they exist.
Separation anxiety is a more serious behavioural issue where dogs can become distressed and destructive when they’re left alone, or even when they’re owner is getting ready to leave. It can include urinating and defecating in new or inappropriate places, escaping, digging, howling, barking, chewing or pacing. They may also become a “Velcro dog” – being stuck to you while you are home.
If your dog is displaying any signs of this behaviour, it is important to seek professional help. If you would like to set your dog up for separation success, our trainer can help you.