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Separation Anxiety Post Lockdown

Updated: Jul 23, 2020

One good thing that came out of the hard lockdown is that we got to spend a lot of time with our pets. Binging on Netflix series or baking banana bread, our fur babies were always by our side.

Now that the economy has opened up and most of us are back in the office or working from home, we don’t have as much time to spend with our precious pooches.

For puppies adopted in lockdown or for anxious dogs used to spending every waking moment with their human, this might come as quite a shock. So what can we do to help them? We need to understand the stress that separation anxiety can have on our pets and the symptoms to look out for. We also need to equip ourselves with the knowledge to help our best friends become the happy and confident hounds that they are meant to be.

Dogs are social animals who thrive on company and consistency. Separation anxiety and panic attacks can occur when dogs are suddenly separated from their human after a long period of time together.

The term “Separation-Related Behavior” is used to describe the stress response that occurs when a dog is left alone or their owner is not in close proximity to them.


Symptoms of this can include:

  • Panting

  • Drooling

  • Barking

  • Shaking

  • Destruction / Chewing of furniture

  • Defecating or urinating in the house

  • Some dogs will stop eating

  • Acting depressed

  • Whining

  • In extreme cases, dogs could injure themselves trying to escape.

Lockdown Puppies

Many people opened their homes to shelter animals by fostering or adopting puppies and grown dogs over the lockdown period.

Puppies need to learn from a very young age that it isn’t scary to be separated from their pack and to be on their own for a while. Years back it was the breeder’s responsibility to assist in this process but with many puppies being adopted rather than purchased from breeders, it is the responsibility of the new owner to start encouraging this as soon as the pup is brought home.

Under lockdown, it can be difficult to enforce separation training with a puppy when you are always home. If this training is not done, it could cause major separation anxiety in later life. Here are some tips on how to get your puppy used to being alone even while you are still at home:

  • Make up a quiet, safe space away from the family where you pup can be alone. This area should include a comfortable bed as well as space for the pup to move around and stretch out.

  • Leave self-reinforcing activity feeders such as Kongs or Lickimats filled with treats to keep the puppy occupied and pass the time.

  • Don’t leave items that the puppy could chew or choke on.

Start by leaving the puppy in their safe space for short periods of time throughout the day and gradually make this longer as the pup builds more confidence.

Puppies enter an independent and fearful age at around 18 weeks. It is important to expose the puppy to as much as possible during this time. Introduce your puppy to different people and animals besides your family and pets. Puppies raised in the hard lockdown should now be socialised as much as possible so as to try and stop anxious behavior caused by never coming into contact with other people and animals.

At Hackett Hounds and Cats, we want only the best for your fur baby. We have a range of products and services to help your pooch to be confident and happy during this strange time.

  1. Daycare and Zoom Session services – Let us take care of your pooch (adults and puppies) while you are in the office or working from home. They get to hang out with their friends and you get peace and quiet in the office. Socializing dogs helps them to be less timid which in turn can help their confidence when they do need to be left alone.

  1. Puppy School – Socializing your puppy with others their age, is a very important way of raising a happy and confident dog. Teaching through love and positive reward based training, our puppy school (open on Saturdays) balances obedience and socialization. For more info email:

2. Adaptil Collars – Adaptil collars contain DAP (Dog Appeasing Pheromone) which can calm anxious behavior. This is a natural and convenient way to calm puppies and dogs in stressful situation. Available at Hackett Hounds and Vet Love Pet shops.

3. Kongs and Treat releasing toys – We stock a variety of treat release toys which can keep your dog occupied and provide mental stimulation while you are away from home. Available at Vet Love Pet Shops.

4. Walkies with Sandiso and Abel – While your dog is with us for the day in daycare you can book them on a fun adventure walk or run with Sandiso and Abel at R50.00 (This is Sandiso and Abels initiative. All walks must be arranged and paid to them directly). At Hackett Hounds and Cats we believe in promoting entrepreneurship within our team.

To find out more about how we can help or if you need us to answer any questions then please contact us on:

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