How to Help Your Pet Cope with Separation Anxiety
In the weeks to come, you might be trading your home office for your traditional office environment, leaving your pet to wonder where you’ve gone.
It’s probably no surprise that your pet may face some level of separation anxiety after becoming your favorite coworker. The lunchtime cuddles and random paws on your keyboard won’t only be missed by you… it’ll be missed by your fur baby as well.
Signs of Separation Anxiety
When your pet is experiencing separation anxiety, there are emotional responses. These feelings arise when a pet feels distressed when they are no longer in close contact with their pet parents.
There are a few tell-tale behavioral changes indicating separation anxiety for dogs and cats.
- Urinating or defecating
- Barking or howling
- Chewing or destroying objects in the home
- Digging and pacing
- Trying to escape
- Attempting to prevent you from leaving
- Hiding or social withdrawal
- Not eating
- Hissing and panting
- Grooming more often than usual
It’s important not to discipline your pet when they are showing these behaviors as it could cause more emotional distress.
We had a chance to chat with Jess and Jamie over at Blue-9 Pet Products, a company that specializes in making high-quality training accessories for dogs and their pet parents.
They offered some tips on how to help your pet adjust.
Maintain Your Routine
“When working from home, keep your dog’s routine as close to their pre-quarantine routine as possible. Have them stay in another room or in their crate for a few hours throughout the day – even when you are home with them,” suggests Jess.
“Your dog should enjoy some periods of time alone even if you are in the house. If safe to do so, try practicing leaving the house for a short period as well,” added Jamie.
We suggest transitioning to the same pre-quarantine routine with your cat, as well.
When It’s Time to Leave
Leaving home will be hard, especially if your pet shows signs of separation anxiety prior to your departure. It’s best to prepare prior to leaving to help them through the process.
Here are a few things you can do:
- Never make a big scene when leaving home
- Leave your dog with any clothes or blankets that smell like you
- Create a “safe space” for dogs with toys and a long-lasting chew
- Make sure toys are readily available
- Hide treats throughout the house for your cat to find
- Provide access to perches for your cat so they can look outside
- Leave a TV on or music playing as long as it is not triggering
- Allow them access to “familiar space” where you usually hang out
Spend Quality Time
When it’s time to reconnect back with your pet for walks, playtime, or treat time, make it extra special by showering them with affection, feeding them their favorite treat, or adding some time to your walking or playing session.
“Add in plenty of games or training in the home to your routine to help work their brain and provide a physical outlet,” states Jess.
“Now is the perfect time to be working with your dog! Keep your dog busy with treat-dispensing toys, training games, and other types of environmental enrichment,” suggested Jamie.
The same is true with your cat, who can always benefit from a 10-minute work out session with their favorite toy.
Fun and quick game ideas:
- A good game of fetch can go a long way, and if you want to keep it inside use a soft toy and get creative with hallways and stairs
- Play “find the treat” by hiding a few low-calorie treats throughout the house and letting your pet go on the hunt
- “Hide and seek” with a treat or chew (just note if your dog is very cunning they may find you quickly)
- Create an obstacle course for your pet using anything you have around the house – entice them with a chew or a treat for extra incentive
When It’s Time to Go Outside
After a long day at work going outside with your dog (and your cat if you walk them) offers a great bonding experience.
This is the perfect time to add an extra 5-10 minutes to your walk, but don’t forget state and local expectations.
“It’s important to follow your state’s current recommendations for social distancing. Visiting the dog park during this time could potentially expose you to the virus,” suggests Jamie.
“A 6ft rule is best practice while walking dogs on leash,” says Jess.
Supporting Your Pet
Overall, it’s about showing your pet extra love during this time of transition so they aren’t too impacted by the sudden change.
If your pet is showing signs of severe distress such as not eating for long periods of time, high levels of shedding, or isolation, be sure to consult your vet.