As the new school year has just started and for those families who have welcomed a new puppy into their home over Christmas, it is a period of adaptation for them too.
These young dogs have enjoyed the company of their family for several weeks but now have to learn to spend time on their own.
Here are some tips to help ease them into this transition.
The first thing to do is to make your departures low key and avoid making a big fuss over your pup when you return home. Be calm and relaxed and wait for them to settle then greet them and give them a cuddle. Those dogs that look forward to attention when you come home are often more stressed when you are away.
It is a good idea to provide your pup with their own safe place or pen. Make this area comfortable with a bed, fresh water and a few toys. Calm music or even the radio can help them to relax. Feeding your pup their breakfast with a food-dispensing toy will keep them occupied - they will need to play and push the toy to get their food and are less likely to feel lonely or bored.
Exercise is an important tool to help dogs deal with alone time. Exercise releases calming chemicals in the brain and this can give them a sense of relaxation. Excessive exercise can damage growing joints and may lead to problems later in life, therefore controlled exercise with mental and light physical games to tire your puppy are recommended.
Depending on your budget, you may consider looking into doggie daycare or even asking a pet sitter/neighbour to visit your pup if they are going to be alone for a long day.
These suggestions are often enough to help a pup transition to their new schedule. However, some dogs continue to struggle and may require extra support. We urge you to talk to your vet before they become too distressed as it is often easier to resolve these issues early and prevent the development of severe separation anxiety in the future.
Dr Sasha Chapman, Petfocus Vetcare