Pups will miss you – cats, meh

While more of us are heading back to work and school, experts advise that care should be taken to make the transition as easy as possible for the furry members of your family.

COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns meant more than the usual amount of quality at-home pet time, Drea Baker, owner of Dogwit Training in Calgary, tells CTV News.

Baker says that going from being at home 24-7 to heading back to a more normal schedule outside of the home could trigger separation anxiety. 

"The dogs are going to feel it for sure. I don't think we're going to have every dog in the city suddenly with a huge case of separation anxiety, but dogs who may have struggled with being alone before then now have not had any practice at being alone," she tells CTV.

"It's been very good for them, so many dogs are having more walks and more enrichment. They're very social animals so that connection with the family is pretty huge. When we do all go back it will be another pretty heavy adjustment," she says.

Baker has some solid advice on how to make the transition easier for your pets.

Firstly, she suggests going for walks without them. 

"In our classes, we've been talking a lot to people about doing a bit of alone training, doing some stuff to prepare the dog to be by themselves again," she says in the story.

"It's about creating short absences to start with, so they're getting a bit of practice at it. We want to make sure those absences are as pleasant as possible for the dog, so we're providing some funs things to do while we're gone and building up the time." 

Baker tells the news service that other tips include beginning with five minutes of separation and working up. Or try spying on them with Facetime and Zoom when they think they're alone to make the change easier.

"They can really see, 'What is my dog going to do when I'm not here,'" says Baker. "We can see in real-time, 'Is my dog going to stress?' 'Is my dog comfortable?' 'Do they just eat their stuffed Kong and go to sleep?' 'Or are they pacing?' It can give us a lot of information to work with."

Baker says it comes down to the individual pet's personality.

And it's about personality more than breed when it comes to whether a dog is susceptible to anxiety, says Baker.

"Some dogs are going to be a little more sensitive to changes like that," she tells CTV. "Again, dogs who have previously had problems with feeling anxious when their family is gone, we'll see them hit pretty hard."

As for the cats: they can't wait!