Helping your dog to adjust to life after lockdown
As we all get ready to leave lockdown, life for many dogs is about to drastically change – for many this means that after a whole year of being by their beloved owner’s side they will now be left alone for part or even all of the day.
Here are our top tips for helping your dog to adjust to life post-lockdown and to feel confident being alone:
- Create a safe space for your dog – this could be in your kitchen for example, or any room where they already feel safe. Make this the room where all the good stuff happens
- Start by giving your dog engaging activities to do in their safe area. This could be snuffle mats, chews, Kongs stuffed with treats etc. Give your dog the activities to do while you stay in the same room with them at first
- Begin to leave your dog with the fun activities while you go to another room in the house – start by leaving for just a few seconds and then minutes. If they follow you don’t try and push them back in the room. Make the activities more fun and exciting and try again later. Don’t make a big fuss of them when you return – try to keep it calm and matter-of-fact
- Set up return cues for your dog – for example draw the blinds, put on the radio to play soothing music, have a plug-in Pet Remedy diffuser going. Give your dog a verbal cue such as “Back soon!” before leaving the room. Your dog will come to learn that these cues mean you are leaving but will always come back
- Leave the house for short times at first – go outside or to you car for just a few minutes and then return
- It might be useful to set up a webcam so you can see what your dog does while you are out – this will let you know how your dog is coping alone
- If your dog appears comfortable being alone in their safe space during your short absences, you can then gradually build up the duration of your time away. Take it slowly, leave them for a just a little longer each time
- Start now! Build up your dog’s confidence to be left alone gradually, before the time comes that you have to leave them for longer periods
- Don’t leave dogs alone for too long. If you have to leave them for the whole day while you work, consider using the services of a house-sitter, dog walker or doggy day-care provider.
These tips are to help dogs who may experience mild separation anxiety as life changes post-lockdown.
If your dog suffers from serious separation anxiety, consider getting professional help from a trusted behaviourist who will use gentle and positive methods to help your dog regain confidence. We recommend Andrew Hale at trainpositive.com.
Thank you to Andrew Hale for help compiling this article