Weeks, even months have passed since stay-at-home orders were issued across the globe, and now more than ever people are itching for things to return back to normal. But what about our beloved canine friends? What will our dogs’ lives look like when shelter-in-place restrictions are lifted?
According experts and pet professionals, dogs are building up huge co-dependent habits (even more so than they already have!) due to the abrupt and extensive amount of quality time with their owners that quarantine has caused. When restrictions are eventually lifted, our pups could possibly suffer when suddenly parents are back at the office and kids are back in school.
For some dogs, stay-at-home orders have opened the door to strange behaviors, while other dogs are soaking up the quality time they get with their owners. It’s like one endless weekend to them. But animal experts believe that when restrictions are lifted, what our dogs consider their “new normal” will yet again change, potentially causing them stress, particularly around you leaving and not being home.
Fear and stress caused by separation from owners
For the most part, dogs feel stressed when they’re left alone for any amount of time. In extreme cases, these same feelings will occur even while the owner is home but in another room such as the bathroom, bedroom, or other parts of the house where their dog can’t see them. As common as this is, we don’t typically experience such big changes in routine as the COVID-19 pandemic has caused. Not only did your dog adjust to having you home all the time when you’re typically at work, they’ll have to adjust to you returning to work as well. That’s pretty stressful, especially because they can’t make sense of it. This is especially true for dogs that were previously left alone when their owners were gone for work 8-12 hours a day.
So, how can we tell if our beloved pup is under stress? What are the signs they could be showing – even while you’re home 24/7?
How to determine if your dog is showing signs of separation anxiety
The best way to determine if your dog is suffering or showing signs of stress is to put up a webcam in your home and watch your dog while you’re out. If a webcam is too hard to come by, try venturing into a room out of sight from your pup and listen for any signs that your pup may be stressed.
According to experts, dogs experiencing stress may display strange and unsettling behaviors such as:
- Urinating, defecating, and vomiting in the house
- Chewing on objects around the house
- Destructive scratching and digging into the couch, floor, or doors
- Howling, barking, whining, trembling, panting, or drooling excessively and persistently when you leave or when you return
- Trying to escape out of the house, bedroom, crate, or backyard
- Pacing excessively in a circular pattern or in a straight line
These behaviors can often result in self-injuries to your dog’s paws, nails, and teeth.
While more time with our canine friends sounds like a dream come true for you and your dog, experts question if staying home 24/7 will cause more harm than good when life returns to normal. The sudden change in routine can cause them to respond in a number of ways, and just when they start getting used to having you home 24/7, the world opens up again, and our pups are thrown off their new routine. Dr. Karen Sueda, an animal behaviorist, tells Insider, “Dogs thrive on consistency and predictability, as we all do, so any time there’s an abrupt change, it can cause stress.” Now more than ever, we need to focus on our beloved dogs’ mental health regardless if we think our fur babies are handling it okay, or don’t seem extremely upset.
So how can we prepare our sweet pups for separation when this pandemic quarantine ends?
3 Ways to prepare your dog for when quarantine ends
Unfortunately, there is no “cure all” for these issues. However, animal experts do recommend pet owners to slowly train their canine friends in adapting to separation now before all lockdown restrictions are lifted. Below we’ve listed 3 ways to prepare your dog for when quarantine ends.
Establish a routine
It’s inevitable for retail stores, restaurants, and other businesses to reopen, and that means jobs will return. That said, it’s important to prepare your pup for when you’ll be away now rather than later. Go through your daily schedule as you would prior to the lockdown, even if it means you’ll only be gone for a couple of hours at a time. Make sure your dog has everything they need before you head out: food, water, a long walk, etc. Developing a routine can help your pup understand that it’s ok to be alone for a period of time, because they know you’ll always return.
Find out what triggers your dog’s stress
It’s important to understand that certain things can trigger your dog into feeling stressed, like the sound of keys, grabbing your purse or backpack, or even putting on your shoes. Certified canine behavior consultant and professional dog trainer Jamie Gregory recommends to “pick up your keys, carry them around and give the dog a treat. When you put on your shoes, walk around the house and throw a toy. Carry your purse or backpack around the house.” Gregory believes these actions will reinforce the notion that these triggers are positive rather than negative—thus creating a healthy “positive emotional response” when you plan to leave for the day.
Try using CBD to promote calmness
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the many compounds found in the Cannabis sativa plant. While its origin may seem alarming, hemp-derived CBD is completely non-toxic and it cannot get your dog “high” – so you don’t have to worry about that whatsoever. What’s also great about CBD is that studies show it promotes a calming effect in both animal models and humans. (Here is a study that expands on CBD as it relates to stress.) Other studies showcase that CBD supports a normal inflammatory response in dogs.
While more scientific studies are needed, anecdotes and testimonials from pet owners demonstrate just how effective CBD for dogs can be. That said, it’s important to note that there are CBD companies out there looking to cut corners just to make a buck. As pet parents, it’s our duty to seek out only the best and safest products for our canine friends. Here at Holistic Hound we only offer products we give to our own pets. We pride ourselves in formulating top of the line organic CBD oils, bites, and chews for all of our furry friends. Each of our products are thoroughly tested for potency, label accuracy, and safety. And you can always find our lab results for each product on our transparency page.
While we’re all preparing for the world to open up again, just remember it also means big changes for your canine friends too. Their world and routine has been drastically changed just as much as ours, and as pet owners we should start preparing them now for what happens when quarantine ends. For additional ways to calm your anxious pup down, click here.