Our furry friends won't be able to understand our Prime Minister when he tells us it's time to go back to work and resume our normal lives following Covid-19. After spending weeks in your company and having your undivided attention, your dog is likely to watch you walk out the door and think: 'What’s going on? Where are you going without me?' and it may cause them to feel anxious and behave differently.

Some dogs will adapt quickly to the change and will behave just how they did before and cope (maybe even enjoy!) being on their own more, whereas others will not. Even a dog who hasn't shown any symptoms of separation anxiety before may start showing signs due to the sudden change to their routine (as dogs do love their routines!)

Examples of behaviour to look out for include howling and crying when you leave, house-trained dogs suddenly having accidents in the home, destructive behaviour and digging at the door. As well as these extreme changes in behaviour, your dog might start showing symptoms in a more subtle way, which you can also be prepared for. Subtle signs to look out for include your dog having a low mood and them simply behaving in a way that is not their usual playful and happy selves.

We know it can be stressful and worrying when you see your dog displaying these kind of behaviours, but don't worry, we're here to help.

Here are our tips on how to combat post-quarantine separation anxiety:

  • Encourage your dog to be more independent by leaving the room when they have their breakfast and dinner.

  • Try spending short periods of time in a different room or in the garden whilst your dog has a stuffed Kong or chew inside so they have a positive experience with you out of the room.

  • Build up the time you leave them in a different room slowly, making sure your dog is relaxed when on their own and you’re building up positive associations along the way by using toys, chews or food puzzles like Kongs.

We believe if you start planning now and preparing your dog for the change, by the time we return to normality the change will hopefully feel less severe and more manageable for all involved.

You may also be using the lockdown period to settle a new puppy into the home. It may be tricky to introduce puppies to new sights, sounds and experiences outside of the home at the moment with social distancing in place.

However, there are things you can do to build up their confidence and create good experiences in the outside world:

  • If you have a front garden simply spend some time watching the world go by with your puppy. If your front garden is un-secure, have them on lead but allow them to move away if something scary goes by and give them some treats or play with toys when they see cars, dogs and people to build good associations.

  • If your puppy isn’t vaccinated you should carry them in your arms if leaving your house so they can get familiar with the sights, smells and sounds of the outside world without them touching the floor and being at risk.

  • If your puppy is vaccinated take them out on short walks and allow them to see people, dogs and cars. If they seem worried by any of this start introducing them at a bigger distance and give them treats as they see them.

  • Introduce your dogs to new and novel items in the home with items you already have in your loft and garage or buy them online. Tunnels, ball pits, bikes; let them experience items that move, feel different and make different sounds. Be mindful not to overwhelm your puppy and give them choices to move away if they want to.

Following this advice, your puppy will hopefully feel comfortable and prepared for when life returns to normal and you can go out and about more, meeting new people and furry friends along the way.