Photo Credit: Sahsha Kochanowicz Photography
Isn’t it wonderful how mandated quarantines allow us to spend more time with our beloved fur friends? It’s something we’ve always dreamed of, and now the opportunity has arrived. Let’s make the best of it by keeping our dog’s overall health and long-term well-being in mind.
Before this pandemic, we all had our daily routines - including our dogs. Those schedules likely limited our time spent at home and interacting. If your dog has handled separation calmly like a pro, then you’ll want to help them retain that skill. There are countless numbers of dogs across the globe who suffer from separation anxiety and need extra support, training, and medication to foster the ability to cope with being left alone. This is an ideal time to connect with Certified Separation Anxiety Trainers at malenademartini.com if your dog already experiences the crippling symptoms of separation anxiety. However, if your dog rocks at handling your absences, then let’s keep it that way! Consider implementing these simple strategies now for preventing separation anxiety in your pet when we get to the other side of all this:
- Keep some normal routines in place: You may develop a few new rituals like longer morning cuddles, lunchtime tug, and additional petting during this time of quarantine, but stick to some of the previous norms. A few things that you can likely maintain are feeding, potty, and walking/exercise times.
- Continue crating/kenneling: If your dog is usually crated throughout the day, continue times in the crate. This may inhibit our dreams of spending the days at home with our dogs underfoot, but it is one of the best ways to help our dogs maintain their independence and crate comfort expertise. No, you don’t need to keep your pooch in the crate for your entire work day at home. However, maintaining several blocks of crating during your regular work times will benefit your canine companion. You may even find it helpful for increasing your productivity with work or household duties. It can be difficult for some dogs to settle in their crate when their guardians are home. Try using white noise or calming music, providing a special savory chew, and avoiding their crate area. If they whine for a few minutes and settle, then that’s okay. Yet, if your dog expresses signs of distress or panic like inconsolable yelping/screaming, crying/whimpering, drooling, frantic digging or chewing, etc., then let them out of the crate and contact us for coaching on growing this important skill without fright.
- Offer breaks & quiet times: Some dogs will become stressed and less tolerant during this flux and additional household activity. I don’t know about your home, but ours is definitely feeling some growing pains. We’ve got everyone sharing spaces and learning new things. Sometimes, this is a source of excess tension that results in reactions that are a bit out of the norm. It’s important to take a step back and take frequent breaks ourselves to recharge and avoid those over the top responses. Pay attention to what your dog is saying with their body language. Give them breaks from the inundation of interactions and activities before they start showing obvious signs of discomfort like growling, snapping, and biting. Let them romp and sniff in the backyard without the kids following, rest in their favorite spaces without disruption, and self-entertain appropriately uninterrupted.
- Take a walk WITHOUT your dog: Can you believe I just said that? I did! It’s a great opportunity to get your movement in and help your dog continue their confidence with alone time. I chuckled at myself the other day when I did this. I felt guilty. I wondered if I should go out the normal garage door or the front door. We usually leave out the front door for walks together and the garage if our dogs are gated off or kenneled to be home alone. I decided to stick with the garage door exit since I was going on a long walk, but mix it up some when I’m taking shorter strolls or just getting the mail. Do what’s going to set your dog up for success to maintain their cool when you leave without them.
With quarantine durations in flux, seemingly being extended every time I turn on the news, applying and maintaining a healthy balance for both human and canine family members will prove beneficial in the long run.