Congratulations on your new puppy! Like many people across the country, you may have decided to add a furry member to your family in light of staying home more during the COVID-19 pandemic. There’s lots of quality time to delight in their sheer cuteness! But what happens when restrictions ease, and we start to be out of the house more, whether that’s for work, school, errands, or other commitments? This could be a jarring change for your pup, who’s gotten used to having you around and at home all the time.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), between 20% and 40% of dogs seen by U.S. veterinary behaviorists are diagnosed with separation anxiety. Prevent your new puppy from developing this common problem behavior by implementing a normal routine.
How to create a normal routine for your new puppy
Pets thrive on consistency and predictability, and a sudden upheaval in their daily routine can create stress. So, although toting your new pup everywhere may be tempting, remember that life eventually will return to normal, and they will have to be on their own while you’re gone. Help your puppy learn your regular schedule from the first day you bring them home, so they know what to expect. Wake up when you usually would for work, ensuring you leave extra time to feed, walk, and play with your puppy, then head to the “office.” If you are fortunate enough to work from home, you may have a legitimate office, but if not, leave your puppy in their crate with a food puzzle while you work in a different room. Since it will be challenging to remain absent for an entire normal workday while you’re following stay-at-home orders, return to your puppy after a set time, and engage in your normal activities after coming home from work.
Many people struggle with leaving their new puppy in a crate, especially if they are at home and can hear them whining. Teach your puppy independence, first with short absences, building up to longer absences. A beginning step can be as simple as tossing your pup a few pieces of kibble, while you walk to a different room. With multiple practice sessions throughout the day, build up to leaving your puppy distracted with a food puzzle, while you work in your garden, take a shower, or fold a load of laundry.
Working now to prevent separation anxiety is best for your puppy (and you) in the long run. Contact us if you have any questions or concerns.