Separation anxiety in your pet after lockdown
If you believe your pet is in for a hard time once your normal hectic working lives resume. We can help you navigate through this potentially anxious time, hopefully stress-free.
Anxiousness in dogs usually occurs just prior to you leaving home and often just as you get back. In extreme cases this behaviour can continue throughout their day. Signs that will clue you in that your beloved pet is struggling include digging, chewing, barking, self-trauma, inappropriate urination and defaecation. Some of these signs can also be due to boredom or to a traumatic event that has happened while they have been home alone so it can be tricky to diagnose.
There is generally an underlying genetic predisposition to dogs presenting with fearful behaviour however, fear is a predominantly learnt behaviour – and what is learned can be unlearned. Punishment of any kind, for any reason will not help and will only exacerbate any problematic behaviours you are witnessing. You cannot treat fear by causing fear.
Destruction and house soiling regarding separation anxiety is not done out of spite or through conscious thought, they are part of a panic response. An agitated dog is so caught up in their emotions that they cannot think rationally or control their own reactions. It is a common occurrence seen in dogs who lack in confidence, have low self-esteem and those anguished by pent-up energy with no outlet. Anxious dogs repetitively perform problematic behaviours as a form of stress relief. These actions release endorphins which act to calm/soothe them and make them feel better.
Providing lots of mental and physical stimulation is the most important factor in reducing anxiety. There are tools you can use to get them focused on something else before the stressor becomes overwhelming. For a long-term solution, a Desensitisation and Counter Conditioning programme can be undertaken, and our Feilding-based Behaviour Consultant Sandy can answer any questions that you may have.
For cats, after lockdown most people will only have to deal with the aftermath over “overindulging” our cats with food. This is due to them being underfoot which, if your household is anything like mine, happened every time I ventured into the kitchen. Your biggest concern centres around all the complications associated with cat obesity but separation anxiety in cats can also occur.