Separation anxiety in dogs is a common concern post-pandemic

As COVID-19 restrictions loosen and people return to work, many claim their dogs’ separation anxiety has become worse.

Extra time at home due to COVID-19 restrictions has meant more time to spend with our dogs. But what happens as we go back to work? A survey conducted by of 500 Canadian dog parents revealed that half have a canine companion with separation anxiety — and 10% say their dogs’ separation anxiety levels have increased since lockdown.

On the bright side, 40% of respondents say they bonded even more closely to their dogs during lockdown, and one in three found their dogs helped them with pandemic-related stress. This isn’t surprising, given what we know about the positive impact of animals on our mental health. A closer bond is a beautiful thing, but it can also make leaving your pup at home even harder. And while 50% of respondents would love to take their dog to work, only 8% of are lucky enough to have a dog-friendly workplace.

50% of dog caretakers have canines with separation anxiety — and 10% say their dogs’ separation anxiety levels have increased during lockdown.

So what’s a dog parent to do when returning to work? Certified dog trainer Nicole Ellis offers the following tips for alleviating separation anxiety in dogs:

Start slow

Spend short periods of time away from your dog each day, starting with two or three minutes and slowing building up to longer times.

Don’t make a big deal when you leave or come home

By fussing over your dog when you leave and return, you’re potentially creating extra stress for the next time you leave. Keep it casual.

Help your dog stay stimulated

Use toys, puzzle games, treats, and other things that help keep your dog stay mentally busy.

Offer pleasant distractions

Play some music, white noise, or the TV to create noise in your house. Have it on when you leave. Animal-loving dogs may enjoy watching DogTV, which has the colors adjusted to attract dogs to the images on the screen.

Try calming pheromones

Consider using a DAP diffuser, which releases dog-appeasing pheromones in the air. These don’t work for all dogs but may have a positive impact.

Stick to a schedule

Before you go back to work, get your dog on a schedule that will be similar to when you actually return. This includes walks, mealtimes, and attention.