Can dog sitters help your dog overcome separation anxiety after lockdown?

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In these strange times, many people have decided that now is the time to get a dog. Whether the decision was to overcome loneliness or to realise a life-long dream of being a dog owner demand for puppies has soared.

The price of puppies has more than doubled during lockdown with dogs costing almost £1,900 on average1.

Dogs are social creatures

Dogs are social creatures and see their family as their pack. Being apart from their pack can cause dogs anxiety and stress. Clearly, this isn’t an ideal situation and can quickly lead to unwanted behaviours from your dog, for example:

  • Excessive barking and howling
  • Chewing, digging, and other destructive behaviours
  • Urinating and defecating in the house
  • Coprophagia – anxious dogs may start eating their faeces

Changing routines

Before the pandemic, many dogs would have been used to a routine that included times during the day when they would be left on their own. The pandemic has turned old routines upside down. Dogs are now used to having their packs with them most of the time. Puppies won’t have lived any other way – they have grown-up with their pack around them.

What can we do to help a dog overcome separation anxiety?

As lockdown eases there are some changes to daily routines that will help to prepare your dog for being on his or her own.

Short absences

Leaving your pup alone for short periods will start your dog getting used to your absence. When you leave the room or home, don’t make a big fuss. Your dog has more chance of remaining calm if when you leave you don’t overexcite your dog. It is the same for when you return home, don’t engage with your dog until he or she is calm.

Longer absences

For longer absences, you may want to consider employing the services of a dog sitter or dog walking service.

Different types of dog sitting services

Dog walker enjoying outdoors in park with group of dogs.

Dog boarding sitters

Just like dropping kids off at the child-minders, you can drop your dog off at a professional dog sitter’s home. This home from home can be less stressful than dog boarding kennels and can be used as doggy day care or for holiday accommodation.

Drop-in dog sitters

A popular alternative to taking your dog to someone else’s home is to employ the services of a drop-in dog sitter. The dog sitter will visit your home to care for your pet for a set time. This has the advantage of leaving your dog in their environment. It can be the ideal solution for someone returning to work that wants someone to look in on their dog for an hour or so each day.

In-house dog sitter

Whilst not a solution for separation anxiety, I am including the option of an in-house sitter to keep you fully informed. Using an in-house sitter is increasingly popular for dog and pet owners when they go on holiday. You employ a dog sitter to stay in your home whilst you are away. Your pet remains at home where they feel comfortable and safe, and your property isn’t empty whilst you are on holiday.

Choosing the right dog sitting service

Now that you know the basic services on offer, how do you go about finding a dog sitting service that you can trust?

Word of mouth

There are a few places you can start looking for a local dog sitter. Your local veterinary practice may have a notice-board advertising local services, and you can ask the veterinary team whether they can endorse any of the sitters listed. You can also ask other dog owners for a recommendation.

Dog sitting websites

A quick search on the internet will find several dog sitting websites. Sites where owners and potential sitters can exchange details. The advantage to using a website to find a dog sitter is that each website usually allows users to share their experiences and rate each dog sitter they have used.

Summary

As with many things in life, preparing for time away from your dog will help prevent separation anxiety from affecting your dog. Whether you choose a doggy day care centre or choose to use the services of a drop-in dog walker both can be short or long-term solutions to help your dog overcome separation anxiety.

 

 

1 https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-54115646

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