Pet peeves: How will your dog adapt to being home alone as lockdown comes to an end?

Picture: Getty Images

Picture: Getty Images

Pet ownership surged in Ireland during the Covid-19 crisis, with new research* revealing that one in eight people got a new pet during lockdown.

But while lockdown was stressful for humans, it has been a dream for dogs. With owners at home all the time, more ‘walkies’ and more attention than ever, our pets have never had it so good. But with restrictions slowly lifting and many of us returning to the office, or simply spending more time away from home, our pooches are becoming seriously anxious.

Lots of people are worried about leaving their dog on its own when they go back to work. But how do you know if your dog is suffering from separation anxiety?

Symptoms that a dog is struggling when left alone are:

• Barking or howling

• Destructive behaviour, for example, chewing furniture

• Toileting in the house

• Pacing

• Not settling

• Drooling or panting

If your dog is ONLY exhibiting undesirable behaviour when left alone, it’s important to remember that they’re not trying to give you a hard time – they’re having a hard time!

How to ease anxiety

So how do you help an anxious dog? The following tips can help.

Go at your dog’s pace – Take little steps such as stepping outside of a door and immediately returning, and then gradually build this up to longer periods.

Make them a safe zone – Choose a place in the house that’s just for them and make it comfy and cosy.

Remain passive when you return – Make it seem like it was no big deal that you popped out.

Leave the radio or TV on when you are out – This will help them feel as if they are not alone. Music has been shown to have a calming effect on dogs - particularly classical music or even reggae and soft rock!

Use ADAPTIL – ADAPTIL contains the dog-appeasing pheromone typically released by a mother dog naturally to calm her new puppies and is clinically proven to help your dog cope with their anxiety. It is to be used alongside training and to help your dog with reducing the anxious signs they show.

In a study (Gaultier et al 2005), barking was reduced by 65pc, signs of destruction by 91pc and stress-related house soiling by 75pc. Just use the ADAPTIL Calm Home Diffuser. Plug it in to make your dog feel safe and secure.

How can ADAPTIL help?

Michelle Hennigan from Kells, Co Meath, adopted her 18-month-old black setter cross, Clifford, from a rescue centre as a puppy during the first lockdown. He became a central part of the family life and the Hennigan’s adult daughter, Jane, became particularly close to Clifford. She brought him on long walks and snuggled up with him when she was working from home. It was picture-perfect for Clifford.

But a few weeks ago, Jane went back to work at the office. Michelle started noticing that Clifford was showing signs of being anxious (pacing, barking, chewing furniture and general uneasiness) and they looked for a solution to try to ease him.

Michelle started using the ADAPTIL collar on Clifford and sprayed ADAPTIL on his bed and within days, they noticed a considerable calming difference. Clifford was much more relaxed and settled, which allowed Jane to go to work without having to worry about Clifford causing issues at home.

All dogs are different, but every dog has a special place in our lives. By making them feel at ease and accepted in your changing world, you have a best friend for life.

Puppy power

If you have just got a puppy, there’s still time to prevent separation anxiety by using the ADAPTIL Junior Collar . Using this collar is clinically proven to help reduce night crying, help puppies to learn faster, comfort them when home alone and improve their confidence and self-assurance. It is convenient and easy to fasten and should remain on at all times (except when shampooing!).

For more information on Adaptil or where to buy it, visit the PetCarePlus website.

*The Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals ( DSPCA).

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