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Easing your dog into life after lockdown

I don't know about your dogs but Zara DogDog has been very happy having her family at home with her for the past three months. Yes, it has been noisy and chaotic, but she's had family walks every day, people to play with and company all day long.

Now people are allowed out a bit more, if we take the car to run an errand (as rare as it still is), she looks puzzled and wonders why she can't come too.


As we start to see children returning to school and some adults return back to their workplace, dogs are going to be left on their own more often. So how can we help them get used to this and stop them from feeling abandoned?


Here are some tips to start now so that there's less shock later:


1. Find a safe place

If your dog is older, they probably have a place they are comfortable sleeping and spending time alone. However, if you've recently got a puppy, they may have always spent their time in the company of others. So, you need to find a safe place for them to be left alone (which is good practice for when you're in the house anyway). Somewhere secure is good for a puppy - perhaps a utility room or somewhere you can put up a stairgate. Make this area comfortable and familiar. Put their bed in there and some toys so they have something to entertain themselves. And of course they'll need access to fresh water.


2. Start leaving them alone when you're at home

Before you need to start going out, it's best to let them get used to their safe space while you're still in the house. Start for a few minutes each day and gradually increase this until they are comfortable enough in there that you can move out of sight.


3. Start going out for short periods

When you're sure they are happy in their safe space, you can start leaving the house for a few minutes before returning to build your dog's trust that you will always return. Over a week you can increase this amount of time gradually. When you return, continue your routine with them, not overly making a fuss of them as you enter the house or telling them off if they've had an accident while you're been out.


If your dog is still worried...

If your dog is struggling with separation while you're training them to be alone, you can always go back to one of the earlier tips and start again to build their confidence. And, as always, if you're really concerned then don't be afraid to call in a professional dog behaviourist to help you out. They want to make sure you and your dog are happy so will be pleased to support you.


We've kept this short for the kids, but if you need more information to help with your dog after lockdown, please see:


RSPCA: Help your pet adjust when you go back to work after lockdown

PDSA: How to prevent separation anxiety in puppies after lockdown

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