Preparing Pups for the Next Phase of Normal
Many of us discovered the joy of a canine companion during the lockdown. Those pups are growing up, and we are slowing resuming our normal activities. People are heading back to work in their offices after working from home, and soon children will be returning to school. Dogs absolutely can cope with this, but we need to prepare them.
Too often, dog owners feel that their dog absolutely requires someone home all day. The truth is that once our dogs settle into a predictable routine, they will sleep much of the day while we are gone. That is normal and healthy for them. So how do we prepare them so they settle into that new routine without separation anxiety?
Establishing a Routine to Avoid Separation Anxiety
The time to start preparing your dog is now, before they develop problems with separation anxiety. Here’s how to be proactive in four steps.
- A few times a day, get your jacket and keys then just sit down in the house for ten minutes before putting them back. Don’t leave. This will help desensitize your dog to seeing you get ready to depart. During the week, have everything ready the night before to minimize the amount of time your dog sees you preparing to leave.
- Walk your dog daily before your normal leaving time. They are more relaxed after some exercise. This doesn’t have to be a long walk if you don’t have time in your morning routine; even ten minutes will help.
- Before you leave, turn the radio to soothing music and give your dog a special toy they can only have when you aren’t home. The best option is a sturdy puzzle toy such as a Kong that you can stuff with treats for your dog to get out.
- Start with practice runs where you leave for just a short time. Don’t make a fuss when you go or when you return. Keep it as low key and calm as possible. Gradually increase the amount of time you are gone.
Minimize the opportunities for mischief while you are away. Your dog does not need an enormous amount of space, so it is fine to shut doors to keep them out of bedrooms, bathrooms, the sitting room, etc. Limiting your dog to the kitchen and hall while you are out is fine. Just make sure they have plenty of fresh water, a comfy bed and a few toys.
When you come home, your dog will greet you like you are a rock star. This doesn’t mean they were miserable without you, just that you are the centre of their world and they adore you