Dogs, separation anxiety and COVID-19

We are slowly resuming our daily activities. For a lot of us, we will have to go back to work in places that are not our home office. Our pets, particularly our dogs, have gotten used to having us home and giving them a lot more attention. 

While you are still working at home the best thing to do to ready your dog is keep an approximate work schedule with short breaks from your dog. Leave your house for short periods of time, leaving your dog at home.

Take a walk around the block, go pick up coffee from the coffee booth or go do your weekly grocery shopping. Your dog doesn’t need to sit in your car while you shop. That hour away from each other will be good for you both.

Do take your dog for a walk or play in the yard 30 minutes before you go, though; he will be a little tired and if you exercise him before you go, he won’t associate a game of fetch with you leaving.

Vary your pattern of what you do just before you leave. Some dogs get seriously upset when they see you pick up your car keys because they know you will be walking out the door. Since dogs can’t tell time, they might think you are leaving forever. Some can get so upset, they start chewing and destroying their surroundings. 

Turn on the radio to soothe your dog. We have a huge choice of dog music CDs and videos, television channels for dogs and dog music apps, which has classical music specially designed to soothe dog’s jangled nerves.

Offer your dog his meal closest to your leaving in a Kong or interactive food puzzle. He will have it to work on for a while after you leave. You do have to train your dog to know how to use interactive toys. It’s something to think about ahead of time.  

If you have a dog that you are worried about leaving loose in your house, look into crate training. I don’t recommend leaving a dog in a crate for longer than five hours in the daytime. Another choice, if you want to have your dog outside while you are at work, is to plan ahead where that space will be.

 I recommend limiting the dog’s access to the fence that separates him from public sidewalks or neighbors. It can cause barrier aggression. I can’t tell you how many times I have been walking down the sidewalk and I see the boards of a backyard fence pushed outward. I know a barky, big dog will be on the other side.

Hiring a dog walker is a perfect choice, even for a while, to ease your dog into being left alone for long periods of time. I recommend finding someone who is certified, has liability insurance and is bonded.

Remember that your dog does pick up on your emotions. When you leave or come home, be as neutral as possible. 

When you walk into your home, take off your coat, put your things away and take a few breaths before you greet your dog.

Cheri Spaulding is the owner of Rock Nest Training & Pet Care in Creswell. Reach her at 541-895-3162 or



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