As Covid-19 Lockdown Lifts, Where Does That Leave Our Pets?
It’s been a long haul for everyone. There have been some really tough losses for a lot of people, whether it’s a business/financial loss, a personal loss or both. Our hearts go out to everyone for all their losses.
Many pets have actually benefited from the changes that Covid-19 brought whether as part of the steep increase in adoptions, or just having their families at home with them more. And although it isn’t over, there will be some changes that seem to be on the horizon that may change that for them.
Many pets have not been left on their own for a very long time. Some maybe never! If that suddenly changes for them, they may struggle to know how to behave properly.
Best we can do is set them up to succeed. And the time to do it is now.
Some ways you can help are
1. Leave for short periods of time. If they struggle being left completely alone, and you have more than one person in the house, have one person at home while the other goes out and then switch. If the pet is more attached to one person, make sure that person leaves more often.
Ideally, you want to only leave as long as the pet is comfortable
When you go, start using some cues that all is good, like leaving a toy stuffed with healthy treats (like a Kong) or a favourite “safe to chew unsupervised” toy that they only get when someone leaves….helps your pet see you leaving is more of a positive.
You can also put on some nice music to help the house not seem as “empty”
When you return, say a calm “hi” but don’t make a big deal otherwise.
2. Now try everyone leaving. Again for only as long as the pet can handle at first and build the time up. Using the same cues that you left before is helpful because they do learn to associate that with you coming back at some point.
3. If your pet is used to and happy in their crate, this is a good time to reinforce that. If you know you have time to properly crate train someone who isn’t already there, then you can start that training as well, but don’t make it a negative for them by moving too fast through training
4. Some dogs struggle more than others. You should consult a professional trainer or behaviorist if your pet shows self-harming behaviour when left alone.
5. There are also products that can help. Pheromone based calming sprays or plug-ins that help make your dog feel better while you are gone. These vary in effectiveness from dog to dog so be sure to try before you need to use to see if it helps your dog
6. There is another tool that can help. Food can play a role in dog behaviour and there is a product created by Italian Vet and food borne sensitivity specialist Dr Sergio Canello based on the research he did at his research and development facility in Italy. It’s called Behavioral and it works to not only calm the dog with plant-based nutraceuticals like Linden Flowers, Tea Extract and Valerian Root, but also helps to combat inflammation and open up the neural passageways that sometimes get blocked in order to release and receive the “good chemicals” like dopamine and serotonin for the dog to feel better and therefore learn better. This food has proven effective a tool to be used as part of a training/retraining program for many behavior issues, including separation anxiety.
You can read more about the science here https://forza10usa.com/blogs/science/tagged/nervous-system-and-behavior.
Just remember, as with any other training program, your dog loves you and is trying to do their best.
Our job is to support that by giving them the tools they need to understand our expectations.
They don’t watch the news and have a way to prepare themselves for changes in their life. They don’t have access to information that will help them either.
That is our responsibility.
Here’s to some positive changes coming our way and the easiest transition possible!