When Your Dog Is Home Alone: Preparing for Separation Anxiety
Dog owners who’ve returned home after a long day’s work only to discover their precious angel has chewed their shoes or used the rug as a toilet know how upsetting it can be. Bad behavior is often a symptom of separation anxiety.
Unfortunately, 2021 may see an explosion in this condition. That’s because in 2020, many more people started working from home, as pet adoptions soared. When some new pet parents finally go back to the office, there’s sure to be challenges. That’s why it’s important to prepare for separation anxiety before you leave your dog home alone.
Our Incredible Bond
There is no pet quite like a dog. That’s not meant to disparage or minimize the love shared between owners and their rabbits, goats, pigs, cats, or any other creature. It’s just the symbiotic relationship between human and dog stretches back to our hunting and gathering days.
Back then, groups of people were often trailed by wolves looking for scraps. Even then, we were litterbugs. The wolves that thrived among humans were those with the uncommon combination of braveness and gentleness. The ones most willing to calmly approach people for food not only ate better, they reproduced more. There’s even some evidence that by hunting with wolves we survived when our Neanderthal, non-wolf loving brethren, did not.
Since then, we’ve selectively bred those large wolves into dogs as tiny as chihuahuas. Yet, they remain pack animals. When you, their pack leader, leave for the first time, they get nervous. They might bark, destroy furniture, or go to the bathroom indoors. Unfortunately, these unwelcome behaviors top the list for why people bring dogs to shelters. If your dog exhibits biting behavior, this needs to be quickly addressed.
Like humans, dogs with early trauma often struggle with separation anxiety. Which is why rescue dogs often exhibit destructive behaviors when they are left alone more often than dogs that weren’t taken from their mothers too early. It helps to be prepared.
Preparing for Home Alone
If you are returning to in-office work, don’t leave on a Monday and expect your dog to be okay. Instead, before you go back to the job run errands or do an activity that takes you out of the house. Before you go, give your dog a puzzle treat or other toy with tasty food inside that will take it time to remove. This toy should only be used when you are leaving.
Hopefully, your dog will associate your absence with a fun diversion. Be casual about your departure and your return. The bigger a production you make of it, the more your dog will see it as a big deal. Resist the urge to smother your fur baby with cuddles and play the second you enter the house. Instead, take a minute or two to have a drink, sort mail or some other activity.
Like people, dogs who exercise less are more prone to anxiety. A jog before you leave or when you return is good for both of you. Don’t expect your dog to be fine if you’re consistently gone over six hours. Even the best behaved pups will have accidents if they can’t go potty for half a day. You’d most likely have the same problem.
Hire a dog walker or have a trusted neighbor check on your pet. Consider doggie day care. Even with a family member at home, if the dog’s favorite human returns to work some negative behaviors may occur. if destructive behaviors or indoor accidents continue, schedule an appointment with a vet as it may indicate larger problems.
Finally, if extra doggie kisses combined with avoiding a chaotic commute and noxious office air motivates you to extend your time working remotely, like those at the SEO marketing firm ApricotLaw, don’t feel bad. You’re most likely joining thousands of other pup parents.