Has your favourite canine friend got used to you being at home? They may have been a bit confused to start with but they have probably now got used to a new routine and have enjoyed sharing their home with you and your family - all day!
But now, as we start to move out of lockdown, are you worried about how they will cope being home alone again when you return to work and the kids go back to school? Will they adjust back to the old routine without a problem, or are you concerned they may get anxious when there’s no-one around to keep them company and play with them?
ADAPTIL® conducted an international survey during April and May 2020 to understand the effects of lockdown on our dogs’ wellbeing. Here’s a summary of the positive and negative results, and 11 tips to help your dog adjust to being home alone again, after lockdown.
Positive Doggie Results of Lockdown
A recent ADAPTIL survey revealed that:
- 64% of dog owners considered that lockdown has not been stressful for their dogs
- 41% of owners felt there had been a change in the relationship with their dog during lockdown
- 95% found the relationship to have improved
- 77% of owners have spent more time with their dog during lockdown
- 39% felt their dog had become closer to the family during this time
- 32% felt their dog was more affectionate towards them
- 13% felt their dog was more relaxed during lockdown
- 20% said they will walk their dog more often
- 16% said they will make more time to be at home with their dog.
Negative Doggie Results of Lockdown
However, it’s not all been plain sailing with:
- 25% of dog owners feeling that this period of lockdown has been stressful for their dog, mostly due to the inevitable changes in their household routine
- 49% of owners observing an increase in their dog's attention seeking
- 38% of owners noticing several changes in their dog’s behaviour, such as wanting to be closer to them, and being more affectionate (not that this is always negative!)
- 26% owners reporting their dog was more anxious and many were showing signs of stress such as barking, being agitated, whining.
- 46% of dog owners also felt that their dog was picking up on their own human stress
How Doggies Coped During Lockdown
During lockdown the majority of owners (60%) have been playing more with their dogs and, being sensitive to the effects that the change in routine would have on their pooch, 53% of dog owners have been teaching their dogs new tricks, which in turn has strengthened their relationships and helped their dogs cope with their new routine.
In 69% of households, owners felt that ADAPTIL® helped their dog adjust and feel more relaxed with a busier household than normal.
So how can you prepare your dog for the end of lockdown?
11 Tips to Help your Dog Adjust to Being Home Alone After Lockdown
Although dogs are sociable animals, they do like routine and now they have a new routine, they may find it confusing and stressful when they have to revert back to being left home alone again. 38% of owners think that when they return to work it will be stressful for their dogs.
You may feel that you have to go back to square one, when you first had to train your dog to be at home alone and it will be very similar, but hopefully they will remember and revert back quickly..
Here are some tips to help you prepare your dog to be left home alone again:
- Start to introduce periods during the day when they are left alone. This can be in another room while you are still in the house, or it can be when you leave the house for a short period of exercise, or a visit the supermarket.
- Build up the ‘alone’ time, being longer on each occasion, easing them in gently.
- Prepare a safe comfortable area for your pet to relax in.
- Leave them with a favourite toy, chew or a puzzle feeder and plenty of water
- Make sure they have a walk before you leave, so that they will be tired and sleep for a while after you have left.
- If you are currently working from home, try to work in a separate room, so that your dog can get used to you not being around.
- Start slowly! Gradually make adjustments to introduce the new routine slowly. For example if feeding times and walks will be different when you go back to work, make any time changes slowly, don’t suddenly change everything at once!
- Don’t make a big deal of leaving and returning home. Keep it calm and low key and then make sure you praise your dog for not making a fuss.
- Some dogs may like having the radio on – if you are going to play this when you are out of the house, make sure your dog is used to hearing music and the radio while you are around, then it will just be a normal, reassuring sound for them.
- Do not punish your dog for any destruction, mess or noise when you are out of the house. Try to determine why this has happened, perhaps videoing your pet to understand their behaviour, and identify how to best support and help them. A behaviourist may be able to advise further if you are unsure.
- Support your dog with ADAPTIL. Dog owners that are preparing for the end of lockdown are considering different measures to support their dog which include the use of ADAPTIL® (29%).
ADAPTIL can support dogs to help them feel calm and relaxed when you are not there. If you are concerned about how your dog will cope speak to a qualified behaviourist for advice.