Exiting Lockdown & Anxious Animals

How the New Lift in Lockdown Rules Could Cause Anxiety for Your Pets

Loosening Lockdown Rules

Following the latest Government announcement signifying further loosening of lockdown regulations, there are signs that we could be transitioning into a ‘new normal’ imminently. Whilst this news comes as a great relief to many of us who have been separated from loved ones for almost three months, we need to take a moment to consider that this may not be such good news for our beloved pets. Scamps & Champs Chichester would like to highlight the main concerns we may be facing in the up and coming weeks with our anxious pets and how you can assist a smooth transition for your pets, as you begin to leave your house for longer periods of time.

Jackpot Joy

Many of us have been completely quarantined at home for medical reasons, with little or no contact with the outside world for elongated periods of time. Others have been self-isolating and exercising with caution, working from our home offices, being furloughed completely or home schooling our children. Whatever your circumstances are one thing is certain, you have probably been at home with your pets a great deal through this unprecedented period.

Aside from the obvious concerns, your pets have probably perceived your new extended time at home as a great comfort accompanied with additional fuss and food! In fact, they probably think they have struck gold right now by having you and your entire family home 24/7! Furthermore, with your desperation to get outside and enjoy a burst of fresh air and exercise, it is very possible that as a dog owner you have been taking your canine companion for extra walkies too! Jackpot!

An Alteration in Routine

Without our commute to work, the school run, trips out in the evenings and at weekends, not only have we significantly shifted our daily routine but so have our pets. Whereas we would probably leave the house and our pets at least twice a day and possibly for several hours at a time during busy periods, we may now only be leaving the house to walk our dogs. In short, some of our pets may be by our sides throughout the entire day at the moment without us even realising it, as we have succumbed to our new quarantine routine.

Anxiety in Our Animals

As humans we often become anxious during significant changes in our lives and it is no different for our pets. In their minds they have become used to our company, everyone being at home and all of the additional benefits that come with this. Therefore if we suddenly go back to work and begin leaving them they could become extremely anxious, upset and even distressed. So the important question is; how can we avoid this happening? We spoke to Hannah’s Hounds Dog Training who provided us with expert tips on how to reduce anxiety in your pets’ behaviour, in the up and coming weeks.

Tips for Reducing Pet Anxiety

  • Start Now – Start leaving your pets for short periods of time now, whilst you are still self-isolating. Put them into their safe space so they know you are leaving the house. You could even just go out of the room and upstairs so that they think you’re going out, then you are still close by to help if they become distressed.
  • Build It Up – Start by leaving the room for two minutes, then next time five minutes and build up to the time you would usually be out for. Start by just leaving the room and pretending to go out, until you are certain that your pets are settled and content with you going out of the house properly.
  • Safe Space and Triggers – Always leave your pets in their safe space. Be consistent with where you leave them, when you leave them and the signs you provide to your pets as you leave. Perhaps you give the same que, say the same words or turn on the same radio station as you leave. Keep the message consistent so that they recognise the signs that you are leaving the house and they know what is about to happen, this will help reduce anxiety.
  • Treats, Toys & Time – Throughout the day when you are home, keep your pets engaged and active at several points during the day. Have activities planned such as a Kong toy or lick mat, where they have to work for their food and treats. Keep their minds and bodies engaged and active throughout points during your day, so that when you do leave they are ready to slow down and have a break whilst you are out.
  • Exercise – Keep your pets well exercised with plenty of fresh air where possible, so that when you do leave the house they are tired and happy to have some down time in their safe space. When you do leave you could also use a chew toy or treat to keep them occupied whilst you leave them for their settle period of rest. This will help reduce anxiety and keep them calm.

Original Article Credit – Caroline Tutton-Wood (Digital Services) Written for Scamps & Champs Chichester Citing Hannah’s Hounds Dog Training.