Dogs at risk of separation anxiety
Dogs are at risk of separation anxiety and boredom after becoming used to round-the-clock attention during the COVID lockdown.
Chamberlain Road Veterinary Clinic practice manager Tammy O'Grady said separation anxiety and boredom were common for dogs to experience once owners return to work.
"If people were to experience some issues with their dog once they transition back to work or school, it might be one of those two things," Ms O'Grady said.
She said owners often misinterpret dogs experiencing boredom with bad behaviour.
She said signs of boredom included excessive vocalisation, digging, destructive chewing, escaping yards and pulling clothes off clotheslines.
"Some people think their dog is being spiteful but dogs don't have the cognitive process to have spite," she said.
"It's more them trying to entertain themselves because they are bored."
Ms O'Grady said there were a few ways to help alleviate pets' boredom.
She said training at home, toy rotation and offering "doggie jobs" for them to do are a few ways that can help.
"If you have a food-orientated dog, you can give them puzzle feeders to keep them occupied during the day, like a Kong or cubes," she said.
"You can get creative too. If you don't mind a bit of mess, egg cartons can be great for dogs to rip into."
She said a toy treasure hunt around the yard and a kiddie pool filled with sand is also great for dogs who like digging and sniffing.
"If you have plenty of things to do in the yard, dogs are less likely to try and venture out," she said.
Ms O'Grady said dogs experiencing stress or separation anxiety can often go undetected.
She said separation anxiety behaviours typically happen when owners aren't home.
"Some dogs can exhibit signs when you are getting ready because they pick up your cues," she said.
Ms O'Grady said some signs a dog experiences separation anxiety includes whining, pacing, yawning, sudden urination or defecation or growling at you or another pet.
"People often get confused why those things are happening but its more of a anxiety, stress or fearful response," she said.
Ms O'Grady said changing up your routine can help dogs out of anxiety.
"If you work Monday to Friday and have a different routine on the weekend, try and do the exact routine you would do on Monday to Friday but then don't leave the house," she said.
"So those triggers start to lose their power."
She said leaving dogs for different periods of time can also help them adjust to their owners back at work.
"Try and make your returns and depatures very nonchalant," she said.
"When you get home, don't do an excessive greeting but rather reinforce that calm behaviour gets your attention."
If you have any concerns about your pet, call Chamberlain Road Veterinary Clinic on 4975 5900.