By Natalie Jimenez and Karlee Akesson

Pets and their owners at Central Park’s dog park in Saugus. Photo by Karlee Akesson

As pets have become accustomed to their owners staying at home through the duration of quarantine, plans to reopen California by June 15 could trigger separation anxiety while pet owners return to work. 

“It’s going to be hard,” said SCV resident Diana Lopez. “I know for a fact he is going to have separation anxiety. He’s our only dog and we’ve always had someone with him or at home for the time we’ve had him.”

While some people have the option to take their pets to dog daycares, not everyone will have that opportunity or feel comfortable with leaving their pets with strangers. Some will have to look for other resources to help their pets with their hyper-attachment. 

CBD is a way to naturally help treat anxiety and keep pets relaxed. When leaving your pet, it’s best to not make a big deal about leaving or arriving home. Not acknowledging your pet for a short period of time when arriving then calmly petting them after a few minutes can help with the anxiety. Leaving an article of clothing prompts the dog to learn to associate specific cues with the absence of their owner.

Some dog owners are starting to crate train their dogs to help them adjust to being alone. 

“We’ve crate trained him and would leave him there for a while but once the pandemic hit, it seemed pointless to do so,” Lopez said. “Now we’re slowly leaving him home alone little by little so he gets accustomed to it again.”

Crate training assists in teaching dogs to not engage in destructive behavior and allows them to practice being by themselves. This helps them experience a safe place where they can go to feel comfortable alone instead of feeling trapped or associating the crate with a punishment for bad behavior.

“I work from home but she’s good about separation anxiety because we’ve trained her to stay in her crate for long periods of time even before COVID,” said Sharon Lee, who has a dog named Bailey. “So we still do that when we’re home. We have her in the crate for a couple hours so that she’s just used to having her alone time.”

“I have a lot of anxiety. My husband and I need to take a trip for a week or 10 days to look at retirement areas,” said dog owner Sheryl Arp, “and I’ve been searching for over a week now to try to find a boarding facility or somewhere to leave her while we take this trip and it’s been really hard. It’s like looking for daycare for your kid.”

“Right now, we spend all of our time with her. She’s either with us or she’s not alone for very long, so if my husband decides to go back to work then we’re going to have that same problem because she’s used to us both being there all the time. It’s going to be hard for her because they get attached too. We’re at least trying to figure it out in a way that works for everybody.”

In the meantime, it’s best to start these habits early to begin. Adjusting your pet’s daily routine will allow them to feel safe with their owner being away for a longer period of time. 

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