MEMPHIS, Tennessee —
Everyone has had to do a lot of adjusting during the coronavirus pandemic and so have pets. Now that Tennessee is gradually shifting back to normal, that means another change for our furry friends.
It may be calm at home now, but once the pet owner leaves, it all begins.
"Routine is great in almost every setting with pet owners except separation anxiety," said Dr. Oscar Chavez, Just Food for Dogs Chief Medical Officer.
Dr. Oscar Chavez is a veterinarian. He predicts there will be a number of dogs with separation anxiety as communities wag from "safer at home" to reopening.
"If there is a moment that you leave from the grocery store for example or run an errand and come back, there's destructive behavior for example or they have soiled when they usually don't have accidents in the house," said Dr. Chavez.
What early signs should owners sniff out?
"Excessive cleanliness, following you around the house, always looking or seeking you out. Sometimes, it's what you don't notice," said Dr. Chavez.
Behaviors many may not notice is if your dog is never independent. Despite these behaviors, pet owners can gradually break them now.
"Start making it no big deal. The last thing you want to do is have drama around the time that you leave and from the time that you come home," said Dr. Chavez. "You can also desensitize them by jingling the keys, collecting your belongings whether it's a briefcase or a purse and walking to the door. Maybe walking outside the door and coming back in, so you didn't go anywhere."
Another trick is to give your dog a toy with a treat inside.
"You're rewarding them for being calm and independent, but at the same time, you're giving them something to do to pass time," said Dr. Chavez. "A lot of the times with separation anxiety is you've become their stimulus the entire time. When you're gone, they feel like, 'Oh my gosh. I have nothing to do.'"
If your pet is showing a more serious behavioral problem when you leave, it is best to contact your veterinarian.