Separation anxiety in dogs and cats

As we unpack the past 2 years, we have hopefully developed a greater sense of resilience and flexibility when our landscape changes. Let’s also consider how our pets have been impacted. 

Dogs born and/or acquired in 2020 were kept in isolation too. Robbed of the opportunity to stroll freely in public, socialize with other dogs and experience a routine outside of the home and away from their owners, may now suffer acute separation anxiety and fear of new events. Both dogs and cats were living La Dolce Vita with 24/7 attention and may now be experiencing signs of anxiousness and anxiety as their owners return to offices, travel again and spend longer periods away from them.

According to Stacy Liberatore at DailyMail.com, researchers at Auburn University discovered that: “pandemic puppies” are fearful during encounters with other dogs and humans because they spent so much of their early lives cooped up inside” and are prone to panic in unfamiliar environments. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-9694389/Pandemic-puppies-adopted-COVID-19-lockdowns-face-behavior-challenges.html

As early socialization is critically important in the first 3 months of a young pup’s life, learning to bond and socially communicate with other dogs and people helps them develop their coping skills and confidence.

Perhaps you’ve experienced signs of your pet’s increased anxiety such as whining, increased barking, excessive licking, shaking, indoor destruction, never-before accidents and/or lack of appetite. Cats may show these same signs in addition to suddenly ignoring the litter box, attempting to hide or escape or needing more affection.

You may need to begin a period of “desensitization” by leaving your dogs or cats alone for a spell. Start with short absences and gradually increase the time you’re gone. Start with short sessions and never make it a big deal when you leave or return.

With patience, your pet will learn to adapt to your absences with the confidence that you will return. Devotional practice is required as it may take a few weeks or months to reestablish your pet’s poise. First determine the threshold of time it takes before your pet panics.  Increase their time alone until they are comfortable. Vary the time of day for your practice sessions.  Consider the Petcube Camera to not only keep an eye on your pets, but also dispense treats to them remotely! Sold in our Pet Store @ https://doolittlesdoghouse.com/shop/

Before you leave, give your pets positive rewards so they have a different focus about your exit. Give them a high value treat so they associate something yummy with your departure. Leave entertainment toys or a stuffed Kong to keep them occupied while you’re gone. For cats, introduce a new toy or bring out their favorite one only during those times when you are leaving.

Of course, continued exercise and mental stimulation should be a daily routine for dogs and cats. Going for regular walks, play time, training activities and lots of physical affection are especially important for their mental health. Entertainment toys and bully sticks are not only fun for dogs but provide mental stimulation also.  We recommend EcoKind Chew Sticks for their all-natural ingredients. See EcoKind products in our Pet Store @ https://doolittlesdoghouse.com/shop/.  Entertainment toys for dogs available @ https://www.chewy.com/b/interactive-toys-319 For cats, a new perch or tree, food puzzles and several scratching posts help keep them positively engaged.    Cats with separation anxiety

If your counter-conditioning methods aren’t working, consider your pet may have a medical condition that requires a veterinarian’s analysis.  If all else fails, some pets may benefit from calming aids. Talk to your vet about your concerns.

As we adapt to change, your dogs and cats can also adjust and be just as happy with careful coordination on your part.





Photo attributions: Dog & Cat by Louis-Philippe Poitras (on Unsplash) and Cats at Play by Arina-Krasikova (on Pexels)

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While there is no additional cost to you, should you choose to purchase from one of these outstanding pet-care companies, it helps us keep our boarding rates as low as they are.