Ease your dog's separation distress after months at home

Published: May. 26, 2020 at 7:59 AM CDT
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As Kansas phase into reopening, more people are headed back to work. Your pets have loved having you home all day, but there could be problems when you return to work.

Dogs that have separation distress can misbehave. They will bark and whine, pace back and forth, scratch at the door or even get so panicked they have accidents.

Kathrine Christ with Hands Full Dog Training suggests watching your dog to determine if it has separation issues. Adult dogs who had separation issues previously are prone to having them again. If you've added a new dog to your family over the last few months, you will want to observe its behavior before you leave it at home alone for eight hours.

Do activities around the house without your dog. Take the trash out without your dog. Do laundry with the door closed without your dog.

Christ recommends watching your dog over FaceTime for a trial run. Get in your car and drive away like you're going to work. Go around the block and park. Watch your dog over FaceTime. It should calm down within 20 minutes.

She says observing your dog over FaceTime to discover it's separation distress is cheaper than coming home after eight hours of work to a chewed up couch.

If your dog does not settle down after 20 minutes, that's when you should consider calling a trainer or your veterinarian.

Christ says although little separations at home are good, you should not be afraid to give your dog attention and affection. She says petting your dog and playing with them will not cause separation distress. Wearing your dog out to encourage napping while you're gone is helpful.

"The other side of it is making sure you're giving the dog enough exercise and enrichment when you are there," Christ says, "A nice game of fetch or a walk so that the dog gets a little bit of that out of their system before the absence."