At some point, life will be returning to something that more resembles normality. That might cause your dog great distress, as they are really getting used to being around you a lot more right now.
You might have already noticed some changes to your dog’s behaviour as a result of changes to routine, lack of predictability, family members around all the time, boredom and so on (much like ourselves).
Your dog might be following you about the house like a velcro-dog, they might vocalise when you leave the room, even briefly, or they might be more restless than normal.
Sit beside them, reading and relaxing for example, and establish this as a place they can chill out. Comfort must be established first, before you can add separations.
When they can relax with you right beside them, you can begin to add separations gradually.
Increments might include:
- stand up and sit down
- stand up and move about the room, return to your seat and sit down
- stand up and go to the door, return to your seat and sit down
- stand up, go to the door, and touch the handle, return to your seat and sit down
- stand up, go to the door, open and close the door immediately, return to your seat and sit down
- stand up, step out the door and back in immediately, return to your seat and sit down
- stand up, step out the door close it behind you for a beat, return to your seat and sit down
- stand up, step out the door close it behind you count to 3, return to your seat and sit down
- stand up, step out the door close it behind you and build the time little by little, return to your seat and sit down
The goal is that your dog remains relatively relaxed and comfortable. You can set them up with something yummy like a stuffed toy to work on.
If they get up to follow you or otherwise become worried, just sit back down, talk to them softly and encourage them to go back to their stuffable.
This clip shows graduated separations with a puppy in a crate with a Kong; we are essentially checking at which level puppy is comfortable, or not. That information allows us to establish a starting point and highlight stages that will require extra work and time.
You don’t need to use a crate at all and if you prefer, you don’t need to use a stuffed toy or food rewards.
Set up a settle context for your dog, so that they can get sufficient rest and learn to be calm in a particular set up.
You can use this to add incremental separations too.
If your dog can remain relatively comfortable with you leaving the house, try to maintain the same leaving routine you use normally. For example, the sequence in which you get ready to leave, the words you use to say good-bye, how and where you leave your dog.
Using this routine, leave your dog for short times, every day, like it’s no big deal.
Go to another room, go on an essential trip, go outside and sit in your car. Leave your dog for a duration with which they are comfortable and build that incrementally a little every day.
Try to keep some parts of your dog’s routine in place as best as possible, such as their normal bed time routine.
And because routines might be all over the place, bring your dog for extra toilet breaks, just in case.
Stay safe & well!
For lots more detail on helping your dog during these strange times: On Lockdown
As always, #100daysofenrichmentis available and offers a wide range of activities for your and your pet. Check it out!