After more than a year of working from home, your pet has likely become very accustomed to having you home all day, and with many people returning to work, your furry friend could be dealing with pet separation anxiety. The Doctors share tips on how to help your dog cope.
Signs your pet may be feeling anxious about being separated from you can include excessive barking, pacing, looking out windows, or even destructive behavior when you leave the house.
Pet experts tell HuffPo to prepare your pet for your return to work ahead of time and suggest the following tips:
- Create independent playtime (in a room away from others in the house) for your pet and increase the distance and duration gradually
- Set up a safe and familiar space for your dog before you leave, this may be a crate for some dogs, but for other dogs being in a crate can lead to more anxiety
- Desensitize the "getting ready to leave the house" routine by picking up your keys and putting on your shoes and then DO NOT leave the house as this may help your pet become less stressed when you do need to get ready to leave the house
- Stop with the big hellos and goodbyes, as these overly emotional arrivals and departures can stress your dog and also only greet your dog only when they have calmed down
- Practice praise and pet your dog when the animal is doing things like laying on the couch or calmy playing, as this will reinforce calm behavior
- When you return to work, walk and play with your pet before leaving as exercise will help them sleep more when you are gone
- Keep the radio, TV, or a white noise machine on at low volume while you are gone
- If possible, have a loved one, neighbor, or dog walker take your pet on a midday walk or consider a doggie daycare
- And if you return from work to a soiled carpet or a damaged area of your home, HuffPo's pet expert stresses to NOT punish your dog
“Remember, your dog is not performing these behaviors out of spite but rather from a state of panic — or fight or flight. These behaviors stem from a physiologic response to stress that they cannot control,” veterinary behaviorist Rachel Malamed explains, noting a dog will not be able to connect the punishment to the behavior that likely occurred hours ago.