Helping dogs with separation anxiety post COVID

18th September 2020

Dog looking sad by door


If you are a dog owner, who is planning to return full time to the office soon, then we’d urge you to start thinking about what you are going to do with your dog when you return to work. If you got your dog as a puppy during lockdown you should treat it really quite seriously, as your dog has never been away from you and is going to need a lot of support to learn to be on her own. Here are some questions you need to ask yourself:

  • Who is going to walk her/let her out when I go back to work?
  • Will she be happy being apart from me all day or will she be anxious?
  • Which dog walker should I use?
  • Has my old dog-walker got space to take her back?

Important: No dog should ever be left alone for more than four hours

Furlough coming to an end

The Government’s Furlough scheme will cease at the end of October 2020, which means that as we write, mid-September 2020, if you have been away from your full time, office-based job since March 2020, you have approximately six weeks to get your dog used to being on her own again and we’d urge you to start the process now, to make sure she is fully settled and happy being left on her own for long periods of time.

 Your Doggy ASAP To Do List!

 What is separation anxiety in dogs?

If you have noticed your dog panting, barking, having unusual ‘accidents’ in the house, barking, howling, chewing or scratching at the door in and being destructive in the home when you leave, then she could be suffering from anxiety.

Lincoln University Study

A recent study by Lincoln University (March 2020) has found that ‘anxiety’ in dogs can be divided into four root problems:

  • the need to get away from something in the house
  • wanting to get to something outside
  • reacting to external noises or events
  • a form of boredom

Therefore, the term ‘separation anxiety’ does not necessarily mean they don’t want to be apart from you but could just mean that they are bored, scared or just want to be somewhere else (yes, probably with you).

What to do if you dog has separation anxiety following COVID

Firstly we’d advise you to contact your vet immediately who will be able to give you expert advice and maybe even point you in the direction of a local dog trainer to help sort the problem out. However if you’d like to have a go yourself, then we’ve searched the internet and found these sites which are offering relatively easy to follow advice, on helping your dog to get used being on her own. They all seem to follow a similar method, working on a treat-based reward system and possibly using a baby-gate, you should leave the dog for increasingly long periods of time, rewarding her when you return. They also advocate toys and activities to ensure the dog is not bored. That is a very simplified precis and we’d urge you to read each article fully to understand the process.

We have already had many dogs come to us, as their owners return to work over the last few months, who are suffering from separation anxiety, like Ally here and her dog Monty.

We work closely with owners and pets like these to work through the issue and will treat every case with sensitivity, compassion and of course drawing on our vast experience of looking after dogs.

One of the great things about using Petpals is that we have over 50 Petpals businesses across the country who are hugely experienced in this kind of work; at times like this, we pool our knowledge for the benefit of our clients and their pets. This may be a ‘new normal’ for some, but it’s what we’ve been doing for many years and we hope, should you need it, we can help you too.

Good luck with the return to work and we hope this blog finds both you, and your dog, happy and healthy!

With best wishes from us all at Petpals x


ENDS                                                                                                                                                SEPTEMBER 2020


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