With lockdown easing a lot of us will be returning to work. Our dogs have been used to having their humans around 24/7 and suddenly they are going to have to cope without them there all of the time.
Are you one of the 2 million new dog owners that lockdown has created?
Dogs are pack animals and once removed from their litter or, in the case of a rescue, their kennel mates, they adopt their humans as their ‘pack’. During lockdown this has been wonderful for them but things are now starting to change.
To help your four legged friend adapt to spending some time on their own there are a few things that you can do to help them:
If you have a stair gate, start by leaving them on side and you be in an adjoining room. They can see you, hear you and smell you but can’t join you. Do this for a few days, gradually increasing the time you're apart, and then you can start closing the door between rooms for a short period of time and increasing that.
With have a puppy adopted from Helping Hounds, his name is Timi. We've started getting him used to us being out by putting treats into his crate, putting him in and going out. We started at just 10 minutes, increased to half an hour and then an hour. He is happy as he has something he loves - his treats, and he realises that we are coming back.
Never use a crate as a punishment
Used correctly a crate can be your best friend and your dog will associate it as a safe place to be. Dogs should also be gradually introduced to a crate using proper training methods and their crate needs to be large enough for the dog to stand up and turn around in, with a comfortable bed or mattress.
By leaving your dog on their own and gradually increasing the time, they will eventually get used to it, but we do not advise leaving a dog home alone for prolonged periods of more than 3 hours. Anxiety and boredom can lead to the development of destructive behaviour which is hard to correct.
The books "Easy Peasy Puppy Squeezy" and "Easy Peasy Doggy Squeezy" by Steve Mann, founder of Modern Dog Trainers has some excellent training advice on dealing with separation anxiety.
If you are going to be away from home for longer than 3-4 hours at a time, you should consider a doggy day care service. They offer a variety of services, from popping in to give a dog some company and letting them out for a wee to having them for the entire working day.
Hire a Dog Walker
If you are unable to give your dog a proper walk before work, you should arrange to have someone walk your dog during the day to burn off some energy and stress and to break up the day.
We will be sharing some tips in a future blog post about finding the right dog-care specialist.
There are so many options available, your four legged friend is certain to be catered for!