Separation Anxiety in Pets: Tips & Tricks Post Stay-At-Home Orders

Most of the globe has been abiding by various stay-at-home orders for the last 6-8 weeks in order to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus and protect immune-compromised members of our communities. While staying inside has been tough for everyone, certain members of the family haven't been complaining.

Our pets are living their best lives! We've been home with them for 6+ weeks, showering them with our undivided attention and often making them the beneficiaries of our most recent baking experiments and social media videos.

What happens when the stay-at-home orders are lifted and we go back to work and school?

Separation Anxiety is a real issue for many pets. Pets exhibit a variety of signs that indicate separation anxiety (click on this article learn more). Signs of separation anxiety include out-of-character urinating or defecating, barking or howling, chewing on inappropriate items, digging, or trying to escape. These problems often indicate that a dog or cat is in distress.

When a pet's problems are accompanied by other distress behaviors, such as drooling (canines) and additional anxiety symptoms (shaking, panting, pacing, hiding, excessive grooming or licking) at a time when their parents are preparing to leave the house, often, separation anxiety has been triggered.

Because these behaviors can result in injury, household destruction, and escape, the Humane Society of Charlotte is here to help your pet slowly adjust back to life before COVID-19.

1. Let your pet get used to being in their crate again

    • Is your pet crate-trained? If it's almost time to return to work/school, it's time to slowly get your pet(s) used to that lifestyle once again to prevent undue stress.
    • Allow your pet to spend time alone either in their crate or however they are kept when you're not home.
    • Slowly increase that time and leave the house to let your pet re-adjust (talk a walk, a drive, or simply just go outside in your yard to simulate that you're "not home").

2. Let them spend some time alone

    • Take short trips without your pet
    • Fill up on gas, pick up groceries, pick up to-go food, etc.
    • If they usually spend alone time with music, television - make sure to simulate that environment.

3. Don't make leaving the house a stressful or predictable routine

    • DON'T: Put on shoes, pick up keys, and go to the door but then refrain from leaving. This causes the "fake-out".
    • DON'T: Grab your purse or briefcase, but then sit on your couch with it instead of leaving.
    • Pick a simple routine and follow through.

4. Make sure your pet receives the proper amount of mental and physical exercise the day you are going back to work

    • A tired dog/cat is a happy dog/cat.
    • Try food puzzles! These keep your pets mentally engaged and they receive an immediate reward.
    • Frozen treats keep your pets engaged for a while as they are working to get their prize!
    • Do a brief training or play session that morning for 10-15 minutes.

5. Reach out to local dog walkers, pet care-givers, or daycares

    • When all else fails, consider hiring (even short-term) a professional dog walker or pet caregivers.
    • Consider pet daycares! Many are functioning under social distancing policies and providing specials.
    • These professionals are here to help and BONUS: you're supporting our local economy.

Questions or Concerns? Feel free to reach out to our Behavior Management Team for advice or further training by emailing