There is an interesting trend going on right now for the global dog population. At the time of writing this in October of 2020, it is not new news that we are in the middle of a pandemic.
Most of us have heard about the effects of COVID-19 on our mental health, but are there pandemic repercussions for our pet family members too?
Experts argue yes.
Does My Dog Have Anxiety?
The reason that there seems to be a surge of separation anxiety in dogs right now is multifaceted.
First of all, dogs respond to our behavior, emotions, and actions more than you might think. Humans secrete what is called a “chemosignal,” or an odor, to dogs that communicate our emotions (1). Your emotions have likely been changing a lot this year (and for good reason!), which can affect your dog’s stress level.
Second, as your schedule has changed from being gone all day for long periods of time to being quarantined (i.e. being home ALL the time) to going back to work on a part- or full-time basis, your dog’s world has been completely turned upside down. Just like us, dogs are trying to figure out the “new normal,” and with the world’s state of affairs seeming to change every 5 seconds, it’s not just a lot for you to think about. It’s also creating stress for your dog. We can expect new research regarding the long-term effects of the pandemic on separation anxiety in dogs to be coming in the next couple of years (2).
Finally, your dog is a creature of habit and not only for his or her own personal needs. Your dog may base their lives around when you come home, when you leave the house each morning, and other predictable routines you hold. In 2020, our constantly changing schedules, in addition to a record-high rollercoaster of emotions and stress levels has created an environment that your dog cannot anticipate or prepare for, leading to higher anxiety levels.
Furthermore, dogs rely on our facial expressions to process emotions, so you can imagine how mask-wearing protocols have confused our pooches even more (3).
Signs of Separation Anxiety in Dogs
If you are unsure whether or not your dog has separation anxiety, read this list and see if any of these behaviors sound familiar:
- Eliminating in the house when you leave
- Constant yawning
- Excessive digging, licking or chewing
- Escaping the yard or their kennel
- Excessive barking (especially when left alone)
- Panting (even when it is not hot outside)
- Destructive behaviors
How to Help Dogs With Separation Anxiety
I’m not telling you to trash your face mask, and while we still don’t know for sure what the “new normal” will be, there are a few things you can do to help your dog readjust to being left alone.
- Build your dog’s independence by leaving the house every day in some way. You could go for a solo walk if you can’t go in to work, go sit in your car, run errands. Whatever you can do is perfect! The point here is to desensitize your dog to you not being at home 24/7.
Be consistent with training. This is all about building a predictable home environment that is the least confusing possible! For example, if you do not normally allow your dog on the couch, do not allow them up sometimes because you are at home all day feeling bored. Try to get rid of the “sometimes this behavior is ok” model.
- Create a schedule. This is tricky because while you want your dog to be flexible, there are benefits to creating routines. For example, feed your dog at the same time each day, take them on a walk around the same time. If your dog is struggling with anxiety, certain routines could be beneficial.
Natural Remedies for Dog Separation Anxiety
Besides the tips listed above, a very successful completely natural dog separation anxiety remedy is using CBD oil.
CBD is effective because it is able to interact with the body’s inherent endocannabinoid system to naturally ease anxiety and bring the body back to homeostasis. CBD works as a dog anti anxiety supplement because it is able to impact how the body uses serotonin, also known as the “feel good hormone.”
Because CBD products have flooded the market, make sure that you do your homework and choose a high quality dog supplement that has been researched and tested for purity standards.
Rocket Animal’s Canine Cush fits the bill and includes other incredible ingredients to support your dog’s joint health at the same time! You can check it out and order today right here.