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From Couch Potato to Working Dog Again

You’ve been working from home for the last few months and your dog has been accustomed to the new routine.  Luckily, there are some things you can start working on now to make the transition smoother for everyone.

What is separation anxiety or separation distress?

Separation Anxiety is a clinical diagnosis that needs to be made by a qualified veterinarian or veterinary behaviorist.  These are some of the signs to report to your vet:

      • Destructive behavior at windows and doors (including crates) in an attempt to escape
      • A fully house-trained dog making potty mistakes
      • Consistent, non-stop barking, whining or howling

Separation Distress symptoms are similar to separation anxiety, without the clinical identifiers listed above. They appear similar, and may have corresponding symptoms, but do not have the component of clinical anxiety.

      • Incomplete house training
      • Sudden illness
      • Confinement distress
      • Destructive behavior 
      • Barking 

“Separation anxiety can manifest in any dog, and can be triggered by a sudden shift in schedule, like returning to work after sheltering in place.” 

What can I do right now?

Establish a schedule similar to your regular work schedule.  Feed your dog at the same time you normally do when working.  Return their walking schedule to pre-Covid times.  

Provide your dog with physical exercise before leaving them for extended periods of time.  Allow time for plenty of sniffing, a structured exercise program, playing games or positive reinforcement training. 

Create a safe, comfortable space away from human activity. While you are working on the computer, or Zoom call, put your dog in the safe space with a stuffed Kong or chew toy.  Use ambient noise such as a TV, electric fan, white noise, or soft music to create a calm atmosphere. 

Leave your dog alone in the house. Try this while you run quick errands, work outside the home, or need to get away for a bit.  Keep your departures and returns as low key as possible. 

If you find yourself getting frustrated with your dog’s behavior, take a deep breath and remind yourself your dog is not giving you a hard time, they are having a hard time.  

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