Something which has concerned me a great deal since we started to ease lockdown is that the dogs are going to have a very difficult time of it when we start getting out and about once again. The issue that so many dogs are going to have is that they get used to a certain routine and of course they will have certainly got used to having people in the house all day, giving them love, attention, and the odd treat too. I spoke to my vet Dr Balpal Sandhu about what I could do with regards to the dog and the separation anxiety that I am anticipating , and this was the advice which he gave me.
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Something which I have already started doing despite the fact that we are not yet back to normal is training the dog to be on its own. This is the critical first step, that the dog is once again comfortable in its own skin. To do this I have been leaving the dog in a room in the house for say an hour, and then opening up, next week I will look to increase this to an hour and a half and then hopefully allowing that up to two hours. This will greatly help the dog when we start going out again.
A chew toy is a great idea that will keep them occupied for a short while and this may very well be your route to helping your dog to get rid of their separation anxiety. Most experts agree that the main difficulty for the dogs is to get through the shock of you leaving and that those first 20 minutes are very important. It is for this reason why the vet recommended that we use a chew toy that you can pack treats into, which will fall out as the dog plays with the toy. I bought one of these toys and have tested out with the dog, when I pack the cone full of treats it has taken her around 20 minutes to get all of the treats out and to lick the thing clean, which should hopefully be enough to keep her occupied in those first minutes after we leave.
Personally I prefer not to give the dog anti-anxiety medication because I just don’t like the idea of her being drugged up. With this being said if you are not able to help your dog with their separation anxiety after you have tried many things, then it may be the best and the safest option. Dogs can do great damage to themselves when they are in a desperate situation and that is why slipping them something to clam them down could actually be the best thing for them. Try everything else first but if it doesn’t work then this may very well be the route that you go down.
Keep an eye on your dogs and make sure that they deal with this transition as best as possible.