Here’s how to reduce your pandemic pet’s anxiety when you return to the office

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Many Calgarians are preparing to spend more time in the office and less time at home as the province lifts COVID-19 health measures — and dog owners are trying to figure out what to do with their pandemic pooches.

Both cats and dogs are prone to separation anxiety, says Ruby Leslie, founder of Welfare for Animals, a Calgary-based animal training company.

Your absence for much of the day can be difficult for a dog that is not used to it. This can lead to an anxiety disorder, which causes animals to react negatively to pre-departure cues, such as putting on a coat or ringing your keys.

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She says it’s best to take at least two weeks to help animals slowly adjust to longer absences.

“You can go to another room, come back, increase the duration,” she said, and from there increase the time away from home by taking short walks.

Other tips include hiring a dog walker or cat sitter, and playing music or podcasts while you’re away.

Leslie says it’s also helpful to have a camera installed to observe any anxious behavior in your pets so you can take them to a vet, if needed.

Ruby Leslie is the founder of Welfare for Animals, a Calgary-based animal training company. (James Young/CBC)

Dog walkers in “limbo”

Leslie says she is in a “gap zone” in anticipation of what is expected to be a substantial increase in demand over the next month.

Danielle Gwilliam is a dog sitter who helps her neighbor by watching over her dog, Luna. Lately, she brought Luna to her office.

“During COVID, she was home with him all the time, so she’s not used to being alone and separation anxiety, and it’s long hours of being alone,” she said. declared.

Danielle Gwilliam and her neighbor’s dog, Luna. (James Young/CBC)

“I think it’s kind of like being the cool aunt. So I have the benefits of having a dog without the financial responsibility.”

Brian Burke, owner of Back in the Pack Dog Daycare, says demand plummeted in 2020. The service was kept afloat mainly by customers who were doctors, nurses and support staff at the nearby hospital.

Brian Burke is the owner of Back in the Pack Dog Daycare in Calgary. He says attendance dropped in 2020 when the pandemic started. (James Young/CBC)

“Our attendance probably dropped by about half and then continued to increase fairly steadily over the past year,” he said.

Now he says the business is back to pre-pandemic levels and getting one to four new dogs a week, but the biggest difference is that the dogs are older when they arrive because they’ve been staying home. Longer.

“The good thing we have is that we have a stable daycare environment for them so they don’t have to worry about their dog. It doesn’t matter how much stress there is in the rest of their life, we’re pretty sure their dog is going to have a great day.”

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