By Rico the Dog
As told to Donna Newman
Hi, “hoomans”! I’m Rico, and I’m at the CNY SPCA. A lot of my doggy friends have loving families, but I’m still waiting to find mine.
A lot of people are complaining about COVID-19, but my doggy friends who already have homes love it! They’re with their families all the time. They’ve had so many walks, treats, cuddles, car rides — it’s been wonderful.
However, all good things must end. (Sigh.) Adults are going back to work and kids going back to school. That means my doggy friends will be spending time alone — some for the first time in many months.
Some of my friends are fine with this; they’ll just take longer naps. But some dogs will be very sad and may experience something called “separation anxiety.”
Separation anxiety is when doggos love their people so much that they get very nervous when they’re left alone. The doggies may bark a lot, pace, be destructive, have “accidents” (if you know what I mean) and sometimes even hurt themselves!
Some breeds are more prone to separation anxiety (yes, I’m looking at you, my Lab friends!). Sometimes shelter dogs, who have had a lot of families, may experience it. And sometimes, there’s no explanation for it at all.
Luckily, you can help your furry friend deal with separation anxiety. Here’s a few tips:
• Social distance from your dog: If your dog spends every minute with you, you need to encourage them to start spending some time by themselves. Allow them to be outside in a fenced-in yard by themselves. Go for a quick drive in the neighborhood or a short walk around the block without them. Start off slow and gradually work up to more time away from your dog. This lets your dog know that when you leave, you’ll always come back.
• Get them used to the new routine: We dogs love routine! If we know what to expect, we feel more comfortable and confident. A few days before you go back to work, start getting up at the new time and start going through your new routine: take a shower, get dressed, even leave the house for a while, as if you’re really going to work. That way, when you actually return to work, your dog will be more prepared for it.
• Provide plenty of exercise: A tired dog is a happy dog! Before you leave for the day, take your dog for a walk or a fun game of fetch. Exercise will help your dog burn off excess energy and will help them stay relaxed and calm throughout the day. If you’re gone for a long time, hire a dog walker to help us burn off energy and get some physical and mental stimulation. Or try doggy day care once or twice a week.
• Provide interactive toys: Licky mats, filled Kongs, marrow bones, and chew toys can help keep us dogs busy and distracted. (Just make sure that they’re safe for your dog, and your dog won’t choke on them.) Also, leaving on the radio or television on can make us feel like we’re not alone and can block out some noises that may make us nervous.
• Relax! We dogs are very intuitive and we pick up on your mood. If you’re worried, we’re worried, and if you’re confident, we feel better, too. Please don’t make it a big deal when you leave or return. If you’re calm, we’re more likely to be calm, too.
If your dog has severe separation anxiety, please contact your veterinarian or a canine behaviorist. No dog should have to suffer with this.
Please be patient. Sometimes it takes a while for us to get used to a new routine.
And remember, if you’re looking for a new best friend, I’m available!
For more information about adoption, email [email protected] or call 315-454-4479.