Preventing Separation Anxiety
While stuck at home during the COVID-19 quarantine, you may be thinking there is no better time to get a puppy. With plenty of free time for training and lazy puppy snuggles on the couch, you can’t wait to welcome a new pet. But, what is going to happen to that puppy when the stay-at-home order is lifted, and you have to go back to work, and leave your pup all alone? Even if your pet isn’t brand new, they’ve probably gotten used to seeing you a lot more often these days. The adjustment could be hard for them too!
For pets who are used to constant attention and companionship, the abrupt change can throw them into a panic. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), between 20% and 40% of dogs seen by U.S. veterinary behaviorists are diagnosed with separation anxiety. Prevent your pet from developing this common problem behavior by implementing a normal routine.
How to create a normal routine for your new puppy
Pets thrive on consistency and predictability, and a sudden upheaval in their daily routine can create stress. So, although toting your new pup everywhere may be tempting, remember that life eventually will return to normal, and she will have to be on her own while you’re gone. Help your puppy learn your regular schedule from the first day you bring her home, so she knows what to expect. Wake up when you usually would for work, ensuring you leave extra time to feed, walk, and play with your puppy, then head to the “office.” If you are fortunate enough to work from home, you may have a legitimate office, but if not, leave your puppy in her crate with a food puzzle while you “work” in a different room. Since it will be challenging to remain absent for an entire normal workday while you’re following stay-at-home orders, return to your puppy after a set time, and engage in your normal activities after coming home from work.
Many people struggle with leaving their new puppy in a crate, especially if they are at home and can hear her whining. Teach your puppy independence, first with short absences, building up to longer absences. A beginning step can be as simple as tossing your pup a few pieces of kibble, while you walk to a different room. With multiple practice sessions throughout the day, build up to leaving your puppy distracted with a food puzzle, while you work in your garden, take a shower, or fold a load of laundry.
If you’re struggling to teach your pet independence, give us a call, and we can help. Preventing separation anxiety is much simpler than managing the problem.