Dr. Maya Pande
Separation Anxiety In Pets
Updated: Sep 15, 2020
You and your dog have been inseparable these past 3 months. You go everywhere together. You're home together. You go for unending walks and play endless games of fetch together. But soon you'll have to go back to work and leave your four-legged love home alone all day. It's time to prepare him or her for the upcoming changes in both your lives.
Luckily it's relatively easy. Dogs have no concept of time. 2 minutes. 2 hours. Might as well be 2 weeks as far as they're concerned! Leaving your dog alone, even for a few minutes, will help reduce their separation anxiety.
Depending on the dog, it might be enough to close them in a room while you're somewhere else in your apartment or house. That's not enough for most dogs though because they can still hear you! In this case, everyone in your household should leave and go for a walk or a drive without the dog. Even 20 minutes is enough. The key, according to vets and dog trainers, is not to make a fuss about the dog when you return. This shows them that it's ok when you go away because you'll come back and it's not a big deal.
Do this a few times throughout the week and if you think, (or know) that you're going back to work soon, start doing this daily or even a few times during the day. The first few days away from home might still be hard and I can't guarantee there won't be crying - from both of you - but this simple exercise can help ease your dog into a different schedule and you might not have a destroyed house or irate neighbours when you come back each evening.
On the other hand, your cat is probably counting the days until you're gone so they can finally sleep in peace. But if you have a very cuddly, loving (ahem, needy) cat, you might have to preoccupy them with catnip, toys or YouTube while you're gone. As you can see, CatTV is a thing.
Another option for cats is an environmental pheromone spray like Feliway. It's the synthetic version of the natural chemical that cats leave behind when they rub their face on something. This product helps relax and reduce stress in cats. Spray it on their scratching post or bed.
Sometimes both cats and dogs feel comforted if they can smell you. Leave an unlaundered t-shirt close to where they sleep to make them feel soothed until you come home.
It's a weird time for everyone, including our pets, so do what you can to decrease their stress with all the changes that are coming soon.