Expert: Lockdown puppies now suffering separation anxiety

Expert: Lockdown puppies now suffering separation anxiety
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Puppies born during lockdown are now beginning to suffer separation anxiety, as their owners return to work or increased their absences from home, according to a pet behaviour expert.

During lockdown, explained expert Sarah Scharlaekens to the VRT, many people obtained a puppy because they were planning or forced to remain at home for long periods – absence from home being one of the main deterrents to taking on a pet like a dog.

However the problem arises because those puppies never learned to be on their own. With an owner in constant attendance, the puppies never learned to be self-sufficient during the day, and now they are traumatised when their owners leave them for the first substantial amount of time.

"We are going to see that more often, because there is a change in the routine now that more people are going back to work outside the home," said animal therapist Scharlaekens on Radio 2 Antwerp.

"Puppies have not learned to be left alone. Dogs then get stressed and that is of course not good."

There are however steps owners can take.

"You can prepare puppies to be left alone in small stages, by adopting a new routine step by step," she said.

"Owners can start by teaching their dog to stay alone in a place in the house where the animal feels comfortable, when the owner is still at home, but just out of sight. Once that is going well, you can leave the animal alone at home for a while longer."

Another consequence of taking on a puppy when in lockdown is that the animal gets too much attention, relatively speaking. And that in itself can cause a different sort of stress.

"Certainly with puppies, it is important that they do not get overstimulated, and have enough rest. Especially with families with children who are now at home a lot – something that occurs more during the main holiday, not just because of corona – and then a puppy arrives. It is important that the animal gets enough sleep and is allowed a quiet place in the house."

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