We all know how nice it is to have some company at home especially in these current tricky times. The company of a furry companion is no exception. As I type this, I have one of my chocolate labs, Bumble, curled up by my feet and am listening to the not so soothing sounds of both Pebble and Teasle snoring away.
Our pooches love our company just as much which is why when routine changes it can become stressful for them. We need to consider our dogs feelings as we slowly ‘return to normal or go back to work’.
A change in routine
Our pooches can become worried by change. It’s therefore important to try and stick to normal daily routines as much as possible. Try to feed them at the same time each day and have set times for play and training where previously you would have had time to go for a longer walk.
Dogs and sleep
If your dog is used to sleeping at home during the day, they may have been finding it harder to sleep whilst everyone is at home. A good way of settling them is to provide them with their own space where they can take time out from any noise or distractions. Make sure that everyone in your house knows to leave your dog alone when they are in their den/bed for quiet time.
Dogs are very sociable animals, so it’s normal for them to worry when they are left on their own. Teach them to be confident and relaxed at home. Even when you are unable to give them your attention.
When engaged in another activity, encourage them to go in their bed and give them a chew or a food releasing toy to keep them occupied.
It is natural for your dog to want to be with you and want to follow you everywhere. If they do, try and follow you ignore them. Don’t make eye contact or touch them. You might feel mean doing this, but it will teach them that following you is boring!
Teaching your dog to cope
It is important to do this gradually. Pick a day and time where you and your dog are calm and relaxed. Having been for a walk to enable Fido to perform his natural functions.
Starting off with short amounts of time (start with a minute) leave your dog alone in a different room. Gradually build up the amount of time until you then go back to them. Remember to leave them with clean fresh water.
Get into a leaving routine and be calm and relaxed, you could try using a word or phrase to soothe your dog and make them feel secure.
Food releasing toys are a good distraction (if they are foodies of course).
You could also leave an item of clothing in their bed which smells of you to make them feel calm.
Leave the TV or radio on for them when you leave to muffle any disturbing outside noise.
If your dog is still struggling with separation anxiety a dog behaviourist will always be able to help you.