Poll: Returning to work, pet owners worry about post-COVID separation anxiety

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Many people are worried about leaving their pets home alone, as they pack up their home office now that many COVID restrictions are loosening.

It’s another new normal that some dog owners are worried about, and that’s going back to work, and leaving their pet behind at home. According to a recent MSPCA poll, a quarter of pet owners who responded said that they are concerned that their pets will suffer from separation anxiety.

Eric Kessler of Kessler Kennel Farm in East Granby says he sees this often at his kennel.

“Do what you can not to reinforce the behavior,” said Kessler. “Don’t give negative reinforcement, but don’t give positive reinforcement. You want to remain as neutral as you can so that the dog isn’t learning that exhibiting that behavior, that anxiety is being rewarded by the owner.”

MSPCA also states that you should try to prepare your dog for your transition back to work. They suggest small breaks away from your dog, for at least 30 minutes, to create independence. Also, buy toys that can occupy your dog for some time.

Gary Bowler of Chicopee said he has built enough trust with his dog to comfortably leave him at home.

“He is a part of my life,” said Bowler. “He is a part of my schedule. I think we have a good report and he looks forwards to his walks.”

Kessler suggests dog owners should always consult their vet if they suspect separation anxiety because what works for one dog, may not work for others.

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