How to prep your dog for when life returns to normal
KITCHENER -- It's something Anya Barradas, marketing and communications manager for the Kitchener Waterloo Stratford Perth Humane Society, knows very well: separation anxiety in dogs.
She said it's a real issue, and something she sees in her own pup.
“She's been used to having myself, my husband and my three kids at home with her,” Barradas said. “On the occasion that we have to leave the house, she gets very anxious.”
When life and schedules return to normal with in-person learning and working, there’s no doubt our pets will miss us just a much as we'll miss them.
“I can just imagine what it will be like for her when all of us return to our regular schedules, kids go back to school," Barradas said.
Barradas and other staff at the humane society are already working with their own dogs to try to ease the burden of separation anxiety.
That includes the president of the board of directors at the Humane Society, Jacqueline Watty, who says she put her two dogs through similar training techniques when she was preparing to return to work after maternity leave.
This time will be another refresher.
“It really is a real issue,” she said. “They're used to having two to three walks a day.”
Watty says slowly increasing the amount of time your pup is home alone each day can help them slowly adjust.
“Pet owners can start by leaving their house for five minutes at a time and gradually increasing that time,” Barradas said.
She added it's important to remember separation anxiety can look different for different dogs.
“Your dog could tear up your furniture, they could also bark excessively at the front door," Barradas said.
Watty suggests that for those crate training a pup, placing a blanket over the kennel can help ease anxiety.
“It gives them a little bit more of a calming effect, and slowly, again work them up to that crating for longer periods of time so they don’t see it as a punishment, they see it as something that's naturally happening in their day," she said.
Of course, the old saying “a tired dog, is a happy dog,” works well in this situation too.
Taking your furry friend for a “long brisk walk” and letting them go to the bathroom decreases the risk that a good clean will be needed when you return home.
Barradas added leaving dogs a treat, like a frozen Kong filled with peanut butter or wet food, will "pass the time and will give them something to do while you're away."