Local News

Behavioral, anxiety issues: When humans go back to work, dogs will suffer

Posted June 3, 2020 6:43 a.m. EDT
Updated June 3, 2020 7:04 a.m. EDT

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have spent more time at home than at their workplace. For pet owners, no one could be happier about that than their dogs.

A few weeks ago, there weren’t many people in parks walking their dogs during the middle of the day.

"And now, they are everywhere," said Lisa Kang, owner of Walk and Wag of Chapel Hill. "Everyone’s out with their dogs. It’s just wonderful."

Among Kang’s clients are the owners of Watson, an English Springer Spaniel. Kang often takes Watson and other dogs on walks through the trails of Coker Arboretum on the campus of UNC Chapel Hill.

Kang said COVID-19 slowed down her business.

"I mean, once their stay-at-home order went into effect, everybody was at home spending time with their own dogs," said Kang.

Kang predicts that, in the gradual return to normal, it could be a tough transition for many pets.

"Especially for those pets that have recently been adopted and purchased or puppies," said Kang.

Being home alone for several hours can overstress dogs, which can lead to destructive behavior in the home.

"There might be some dogs that will chew furniture or urinat because they really miss their people," Kang said. "They’ve gotten so used to that."

Kang recommends hiring a dog walking business or even asking a friend who hasn’t gone back to work yet to help provide companionship.

Another strategy is using technology to keep an eye on your dog. Some devices allow the owner to monitor their pet on their smart phone and even speak to them.

"Just the dog actually hearing your voice is calming," said Kang, adding that many dogs need that kind of reassurance on a regular basis. "And then there will be other dogs like mine who will be really happy to have their home back — it will be quieter again," said Lang.

If your dog’s separation-anxiety issues persist, Kang suggests speaking to your veterinarian or an animal behaviorist. Extreme cases may require medication.

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