COLORADO SPRINGS — There is a COVID-19 version of home alone happening. A lot of people decided to get pets while working from home during the pandemic. Now a transition back to the workplace is happening and pets have to stay home. "So I've gotten a dog walker and I take her to doggy day care sometimes just to make sure she's got some activity in her life," said Katy Houston who returned to the office a couple of week ago. She says her Golden Retriever Millie stayed at her feet through the day while she was working from home.
"From what we've seen people are really making the extra effort to make it work with their dogs." Colton Johnson, who owns Sunrise Kennels in Colorado Springs says his staff is taking an increasing number of calls from dog owners heading back to work. Some are looking into doggie daycare options, while others are inquiring about training to deal with the transition.
Johnson says it is not uncommon for a dog’s behavior to change when life as they know it is suddenly different. "Sometimes dogs will just be anxious, and they'll just walk around the house and pant, maybe lick, do things like that. Then it can get all the way up to the level of ripping apart your couch."
A dog may be missing attention from its owner, it can be bored, or may be confused by change. Acting out can manifest in multiple ways. There is destructive behavior, but not always. Johnson says a dog may become reactive. That can mean it will start barking when it sees other animals or people. “They've learned that gets them what they want and so we just have to change that." It can be confused as aggression when really it is a way to get your attention.
"Get it addressed immediately because then it won't be as hard to fix." Johnson says it is not hard to get your dog accustomed to time away from you. For some it may be as simple as restricting space and making sure they get lots of exercise. Other dogs may need some training intervention. If you cannot figure out a fix on your own, a professional trainer can help figure it out and change bad behaviors before they become habits.