Let us face it 2020 has been really challenging. A lot of us have been working from home or worse out of work since early March. It has been one tough year! A lot of things to get used to, you become an instant teacher and you even learned how to bake bread!
For a lot of families this was the perfect time to get a new cat or dog. All the home time you could spend with your new pet. A great way for the kids to pass the time. All those walks and play sessions really helped keep us emotionally on track. No matter how you felt on any given day your pet was there to spend time with you and cheer you up. In return you lavished them with endless attention and playtime.
A lot of us have started going back to work this fall and a lot of kids are going back to school. For us this is a very welcome return to a somewhat regular routine. For your dog or cat this is going to be a huge change. Imagine how we would feel, company and fun all day long then suddenly an empty house for hours at a stretch. No kids to play with, no afternoon treatos or walks. From full tilt to nothing in two shakes of a dog’s tail.
Another name for 2020 should be the year of separation anxiety. If you are lucky your pet will adjust very quickly to the new normal. Unfortunately, a percentage of pets will not. Not without a little help from us.
The best way to help with separation anxiety in pets is try to stop it before it starts. Once your pet develops separation anxiety in most cases it does not go away over time. Actually, it can get worse as time marches on. It can cause some serious behavioural issues. If you are unsure look for some of these common symptoms of separation anxiety.
- Excessive barking or whining
- Destructive behaviour
- Compulsive grooming
- Inappropriate peeing and pooping outside of the litter box
- Inappropriate peeing and pooping in the house
- Displays of sadness
A common mistake to try and fix separation anxiety is to run out and get another pet. While we say the more the merrier it will not fix the problem. The problem is they miss you and the routine they have become accustomed to.
Before it becomes a problem, you can take a few simple steps to help the transition. It might help to start leaving the house without your pet for a while on a daily basis if possible. If you can, do it an hour or two each day before you start leaving for longer stretches. It might really help getting them used to you being out of the house.
When you do leave try not to make such a big deal of it. No long goodbyes. Just quietly pick up your keys and go. Of course, you do not have to do that for ever and ever. Just until your pet get’s a little more accustomed to your absence.
For our family we have two toy boxes, one for each level of our house along with assorted other larger toys. We make sure a nice selection of toys is left scattered around each level of our house. When we come home the first thing we do is stop and greet each one of our pets individually. Our way of saying “I missed you”
Little things like leaving a radio on or the TV on while you are out may help. Of course, if you suspect any kind of separation anxiety, it is always best to make a trip to the veterinarian’s office. They can help with a multitude of tips and check to make sure it is not the result on any underlying illness.