Has lockdown made my dog more anxious?

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Are you worried that spending more time at home during lockdown has increased your dogs anxiousness when being left home alone? Here's our advice...

Q) Before the coronavirus pandemic, my husband and I both worked full-time and our West Highland White Terrier was at home on his own during the week, although we did employ a dog walker, who took him out every day at lunchtime.

When we went into lockdown, I thought Archie would be more relaxed as we were both working from home, but actually the reverse is true. He is more anxious about being left on his own, and is quite attention-seeking in his behaviour — something he never was before. I wondered what could have caused this?

Dogs are creatures of habit and routine, and it appears Archie became relatively familiar with the old set-up of an empty house with a dog walker reliably appearing. Suddenly, your routines have changed, and Archie is pleased to have you at home more often. This probably means that when you do leave him, your absence is more obvious.

Similarly, during this current COVID climate, we are all more anxious. Even if we are not displaying our feelings directly, most dogs are super-sensitive and will pick up on our feelings and emotions. So, we all can expect our dogs to perhaps be a little more confused and clingy.

It may be a good idea to teach Archie to go to his bed or mat regularly. When teaching this, you can toss a treat onto the bed as you give the verbal request ‘away’ or ‘bed’. After a while, the word will start working alone. You can then give him a treat on his bed or, if you are leaving the house, a stuff ed Kong or chew. This gives him something pleasant to do while he is home alone.

Advice given by dog trainer Tony Cruse.