As dog owners who've worked from home during the past year navigate their pet's separation anxiety, experts are offering ways to help this member of your family cope while you're away.
"I have become attached to her," said Ashley Zdelar of her 3-year-old Australian shepherd-German shepherd mix, Riley. "I'm used to having her as my little coworker."
Zdelar's recent return to the office has been hard on the dog, too, which is why she chooses to spend her lunch breaks at the dog park, spending quality time with Riley and letting her run off leash.
"As soon as I get home for lunch, we're out and about, we're doing something that's relieving that anxiousness in her," she said.
Mandy Baker, dog trainer with Teamworks Dog Training said she's been busy in recent months, offering private lessons for pups who've spent the last year quarantined at home.
"Dogs are so much a part of the family and very social beings," Baker said. "We're seeing a lot of dogs who are fearful of people and other dogs."
Dr. Caroline Wilde, veterinarian with Trupanion, offers these tips for reducing that separation anxiety and stress:
- Make leaving and returning home a low-key event.
Wilde said excessive amounts of attention make your absence that much more noticeable.
- Desensitize your pet to cues that you're leaving.
Grab your keys and put on your shoes at different times of the day without actually leaving.
Eventually, try leaving the house for short periods of time.
- Leave on a TV or radio to fill the quiet.
- Try crate training.
- Exercise your furry friend.
Alex Fowler, owner of pet sitting service Pack and Pride offers this pro tip:
"An exhausted dog is a happy dog," he said. "So exercise. If you can get your dog sitting there with its tongue hanging out of its mouth looking like it just wants to lay down, that's gonna be a happy dog that doesn't have any worries."