As lockdown begins to ease and many people may soon be heading back to the office, Caroline Spencer, Natural Canine Behaviourist at leading pet wellness brand Bella & Duke shares her tips on helping dogs adjust to a change in routine.
It’s important to remember that it’s completely natural for many dogs to struggle with change. Luckily, there are some simple steps pet owners can follow in order to help make transition periods as stress-free and comfortable as possible for both the dog and the owner.
Specifically, there are many ways to help lessen separation anxiety that dog owners will need to consider if they’ve been working from home during the pandemic and are looking to return to the office in the coming months. Needless to say – it’s important that dogs are not left by themselves for longer than 4 hours a day on a regular basis, so take this into consideration if you have only taken on a new dog since the pandemic began, in case you need to arrange day care.
The last thing any owner wants is their dog feeling distressed through being left alone for any period of time – which can lead to destructive or attention-seeking behaviour including chewing of furniture and items around the house, or barking, whining or howling.
I’d advise following these 5 simple tips when starting to leave your dog home alone for any period of time. Especially if they’ve been used to having you close by for the majority of the day over the past year. Read on to find out how to change your dogs routine:
1. Avoid Making A Fuss
The more anxious you are about leaving your dog, the more worried they are when you leave – so although it may seem unnatural, owners should try to avoid making a huge fuss of their dog when they leave and return home. Why not pop in and out regularly of the room they are left in and take no notice of your dog as you do this. If you spend some time going back and forth a little they may not even notice when you actually leave the house! Try and change up your routine when preparing to leave the house so there is no obvious trigger that they can latch on to that causes them to feel anxious.
2. Have The Radio On Low Even When You Are In
Playing soft music or background noise is often really comforting for a dog when they are left alone. However, you don’t want them to associate you turning on the radio when you leave the house; so why not just have the radio playing on a regular basis over the course of the week at varying times, even if you’re in the other room.
3. Increase The Time You Are Out Of Their Room
If you’ve been working from home with your dog in the same room, try to gradually increase the time you’re in different areas of the house over a period of a few weeks. Rather than a sudden and drastic change for your dog, this will help them transition slowly. Even if that means working from the bedroom, garden or balcony for a couple of hours each day – your dog can adjust to spending some time without you.
4. Avoid Eye Contact
In the run up to the time you must leave the house, you should do your best to avoid eye contact with your dog – this helps them relax. If you look at your dog all the time whilst moving around the house doing what you need to do, this will make your dog feel like you need them and want to engage with them – removing any opportunity for them to fully relax.
5. Try Calm & Balmy!
Bella & Duke have a wonderful natural herbal calming spray for dogs called Calm & Balmy which can be helpful when stressful situations can’t be avoided. I recommend dog owners spray this onto bedding or around the dog’s general area to help with any separation anxiety they may be experiencing. A simple but effective remedy to have in your tool belt!