5 Tips To Help Separation Anxiety When You Return To Work
We’ve all seen the funny memes of how we’ve adapted to spending lots more time at home during the lockdown but with going back to work on the horizon for most of us, have you thought about the toll this could take on your dog? Read our 5 top tips on how to ease your dog back into a new solo routine and to help try and alleviate any separation anxiety they might develop.
A dog who’s suffering from separation anxiety could be showing the following behaviours when left alone:
- Howling or barking
- Being destructive, scratching doors or chewing furniture
- Going to the toilet indoors
- Panting or salivating more than usual
- An increased heart rate
1. Stop What You’re Doing & Start Now
Even if you’re not due back to work just yet, you can make a start now. Start to leave your dog alone in another room for short periods of time each day (it might be worth investing in a baby gate if you can’t easily shut them away). Try to minimise excessive ‘shadowing’ behaviour, if you leave a room and your dog immediately follows you, try sometimes to make them wait in the room on their own (and silently cry in the next room while feeling like a horrible human being) until you return.
2. Owner Who?
Make your dog’s time apart from you enjoyable by keeping them entertained while you’re not there with ‘enrichment toys’. Dog toys such as the KONG range are great for keeping dogs entertained for long periods but there are also really simple dog toys you can DIY at home too, for example:
- Knot and soak an old towel or sock in water and freeze it to create a cool (sorry) new, longer-lasting chew toy
- Make a dried sweet potato rope toy - is it wrong I kinda want one too?
- Try freezing some of their favourite treats in water to make a giant pupsicle!
And when you do return, don’t make a huge fuss over them. You want to create the allusion that leaving them is ‘no biggie’ (when in reality you’re sat sobbing at your desk scrolling through photos of them when they were a puppy).
3. Background Noise
Try leaving the TV on when you leave your dog alone, there are some great YouTube channels which are dedicated to creating calming videos which you can leave running while you’re out. Give the TV For Dogs channel a try, even the colours have been adapted for dogs eyes for optimal viewing! Or leaving a radio on in the background is also another great idea (another funny meme for you here).
4. Minimise Disturbances
Sometimes behaviours like scratching at doors or barking can instead be due to an outside stimulus. Maybe your dog can hear people outside in the street, another dog barking or next door’s cat sat on the window sill taunting them. A great way to know for sure is to buy a pet-cam, this way you can see what is triggering the unwanted behaviours and act accordingly.
5. Calm Their Passions
We stock a few products which can help calm your dog before leaving them. Try the Animology Paws & Relax Calming Aromatherapy Spray which is sprayed directly onto your dog’s coat, it’s infused with lavender and camomille and has a built-in conditioner too - bonus! The hand-baked Calming Chicken Treats From Forthglade are also great for anxious dogs as they contain natural botanicals such as camomile and lemon blam which are known for their calming properties.
Another great hack is to leave your dog with something that has your scent on so they can smell you all day and be reassured you’re coming back - but maybe not your best Gucci scarf, a used towel will work just as well.
And finally, make sure you exercise your dog before you leave them, this will mean they'll likely sleep for the majority of the time you’re away.
We always recommend you seek the help of a professional dog trainer if you’re worried about your dog’s behaviour.