5 Tips to Help Prevent Post-Lockdown Separation Anxiety

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1. Best time to leave your dog is after they have had some exercise or training, with a full stomach. This will hopefully leave them tired enough to nap, or at least mentally stimulated enough that they need some time to chill & relax.

2. Start organising your pet's day now to eventually match your routine post-lockdown, with regular playtimes, exercise & most importantly dedicated quiet time apart whilst you work. Ideally they should be settled in their own bed in a safe, quiet room or comfortable crate they'd normally sleep in. 

3. The first 15 minutes apart are often the worst for dogs, so this crucial time should always be paired with a positive stimulus, like high value food-based toys. Keeping their minds occupied & distracted, will classically condition a positive association. Gradually increase the time spent apart from your dog in small increments daily, ideally out of eyesight.

4. Practice leaving the house alone for short periods of time to run essential errands or go for a walk. Teach your dog what you want them to do to get you to come back. Set them up with a few different toys & chews they can engage with. Spy on them with a webcam & wait for them to stop scratching or whimpering to get you to return. When they play with their toys or chill out, then come back. But if your dog is in obvious serious distress, don't wait for it to stop, come right back to them calmly & seek advice of a professional behaviourist to help you graduate the process & help your dog triumph.

5. Be conscious of close, & often subtle contact your pet makes with you whilst you watch TV, sleep, or do daily chores. Each touch can intensify their dependency on you while you’re self-isolating, potentially increasing the likelihood of separation anxiety developing. Reward your pet for calm, chilled, independent behaviour, especially if they're usually clingy. Remember, every dog is an individual, with chances of developing separation anxiety differing greatly with all age, breed, background & personality. 

Professional Advice

For techniques to combat these important issues please always contact a qualified canine behaviourist for best advice. Thanks to APDAWG friend Hannah Molloy from Pawfect Dogsense for this advice.