SEPARATION ANXIETY


We’ve been holed up in our social distancing bubbles, just us and our pups, eating, sleeping and watching Netflix together, and it’s been great! Only thing is, now you can’t pee without your pup sitting outside the toilet door crying, or you pop out to put out the rubbish accompanied by distraught, gut wrenching whining and miserable scratching. What’s going to happen when you have to go back to work? Do you change jobs so you can work from home? Does your company have a bring-your-dog-to-work policy? Am I a bad pup parent? The stress of it all!

THE GOOD NEWS Take a breath, there’s plenty you can do! The team at CityPets has compiled a list of simple adjustments and techniques to your daily routine which will go a long way towards restoring harmony to your relationship.

CRATING AND/OR SEPARATE SPACES ARE PARAMOUNT Create a space in your main living area and or your bedroom, where your dog can be informed of all the goings ons, placed away from the centre and with a straight visual line of the entrance. If you are using a crate, cover it with a blanket so it’s similar to a den, put in favourite blankies and toys to make it comfy, safe and a positive experience. Keep it light and positive when introducing this plan, it is not a punishment, it’s a gift for anxious dogs. A dog bed can also be used, but it’s harder to reinforce, and more difficult to turn into a den. If you’re watching Netflix on the couch, put your dog in the crate, this will set you up for more significant separation later on.

Instead of having your dog up on the couch with you, begin distancing using their ‘den’ as a way of creating some physical space between you both. (This may be the time to address any separation anxieties you may be experiencing also). Be consistent and calm, it may take you a morning to keep returning them to their space, but persevere, they will get it eventually. This should be a light and positive experience for you both, just repeat until your dog remains. You do not need to raise your voice to achieve this. Do not allow your dog out until you say so, you must be in control of their exit as well as their entry into their space. Build up the time they spend in their den, starting in small bursts and building up to longer periods of time.

On a side note, consider this your dog’s personal space, so do not allow children, pets or other people to bother them while they are in there. it will quickly become a safe haven for them and they will retreat there willingly if this is the case.

ROUTINES ARE POWER Dogs, like children, love a good routine, they know what to expect and it makes them feel safe. Perhaps start your day with a walk to burn off some of your pup's extra energy, breakfast next, and once all your dogs' needs have been met, time to settle them into their den. Calmly invite them in, close the gate and quietly walk away. Remaining calm and nonverbal will go a long way towards alleviating your dog's anxiety. Do not reward whining, barking or other attention seeking behaviour. Only ever release your dog once they’re settled and calm, otherwise you’re rewarding bad behaviour, and we can’t have that can we!

CHANGING YOUR DOG'S BEHAVIOUR MEANS CHANGING YOUR BEHAVIOUR You take the energy out of a situation by reducing eye contact, speech and physical contact. Ignoring your dog is not a rejection or punishment, it does not say ‘I don’t love you’, in dog language it simply communicates that you are their leader and you decide the terms of the relationship. Adopting the body language and attitude this requires, goes a long way towards making your dog feel secure, and reducing the ‘anxiety aspect of the separation anxiety dynamic.

EXITING AND ENTERING THE HOME Again, it is important to diffuse the energy around comings and goings from your dog. Do not engage in long goodbyes, don't cuddle and tell them you will be home soon, neither should you be greeting them effusively. This is all about dialing back the energy and controlling the mood of the transitions. If you normally leave via the front door, try the back, if your keys are a signal, pack them an hour before leaving. In all, minimise the cues and minimise the energy around arrivals and departures.

CITYPETS CAN HELP When you book your dog in for canine adventures with CityPets we bring your pup home tired and ready to settle. We pop your dog into their crate, kennel or bed, give them some water and a treat, and ten to one they'll be sleeping soundly when you get home, essentially giving your pup an opportunity to experience separation, in a positive and

controlled way. Each time you leave your dog and release him or her on return, you are cementing the concept that separation is a safe and relaxing experience. It will take time, but you can do this!

For further advice you can contact the team: admin@citypets.co.nz Book your pup into fun canine adventures: www.citypets.co.nz