Have you ever wondered how much the COVID lockdowns are also affecting our pets? I must admit I hadn’t put much thought into how the changes were affecting my boy Banjo.
It wasn’t until we were all home for an extended period, and then we resumed our normal lives, that I realised it had an impact on him; he was sad and was showing signs of anxiety because we were no longer there all the time. It made sense though, for a few months he had at least one of us home with him all day; he was getting extra walks and spent most of the day lying at our feet. When lockdown ended, that was all taken away.
Banjo’s story isn’t unique, as many more cities are going through another extended lockdown, we thought it was a good time to talk about how we can stop our pet’s becoming anxious or depressed when the inevitable does happen and we are able to resume our normal lives.
Animal Friendly Life spoke to PETschool State Trainer Mandi Wright, about the anxiety dogs can experience when owners make a return to work and, in particular, how owners can turn to technology to alleviate and prevent the anxiety occurring.
Mandi explains that many dogs do experience anxiety and depression when their owners return to work after an extended period at home and what signs we can look out for.
“When you return to work and a normal routine, it may be a shock for your pet who has become accustomed to the constant attention and companionship they’ve received during lockdown,” says Mandi.
“With this disruption of normality, your dog can develop anxiety. Symptoms of this include toileting in the house, excessive barking, salivating and panting, digging, destructiveness, as well as attempting to escape, and an inability to settle”.
It’s also important, Mandi adds, for owners to put plans in place and ensure their dogs are enriched enough when they go back to work to prevent anxiety occurring.
“Dogs are highly social animals who enjoy companionship, so it’s important to create an environment where they feel safe and confident while home alone,” Mandi says.
“In order to make your dog feel secure, create a designated space for their bed, a few of their favourite toys, treats, and comfort items,” she adds “Giving your pet interactive toys to play with, such as licking mats or a dog treat puzzle, can provide stimulation and reduce behavioural issues such as barking, digging, and chewing.”
Mandi also explains how we can turn to technology to alleviate or prevent anxiety in our pets. DOGTV, a scientifically designed streaming platform for dogs, is a great tool to support the loneliness and isolation our pets’ can experience, says Mandi.
“DOGTV helps them feel comforted when left to their own devices. The programs are divided into three categories – exposure, stimulation, and relaxation. Each of these programs is designed to match a dog’s typical daily cycle and, depending on your dog’s needs, each category supports enrichment within their environment by exposing them to new stimuli through different visuals and sounds.
“For a particularly anxious dog, try leaving on DOGTV’s relation segment throughout the day. The program’s calming visuals and soothing sounds will keep your dog relaxed when they’re spending time alone,” adds Mandi.
For further information about DOGTV, head to www.petstock.com.au/c/dogtv.