So you got a pandemic puppy, but it's time to go back to the office. Now what?

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Posted at 5:00 AM, Jul 08, 2021

CINCINNATI — Many of our pets have loved the extra one-on-one time the COVID0-19 pandemic brought with working from home. So much so that, as some start to return to the office, they may notice their furry companions are feeling a little more stressed than usual.

Veterinarians say it's normal for your pet to experience separation anxiety in your absence because they don’t really know when you are coming back. The staff at Red Dog Pet Resort and Spa say they notice a lot more puppies coming for daycare to their facility.

“A lot of people during COVID, they got lonely and so they're spending all this time at home, so they went out and got puppies,” said Chelsey Davis of Red Dog Pet Resort and Spa.

Davis said the resort is a place where your pups — especially those newly adopted puppies who have never been around other humans, let alone other animals — can get some human interaction when you have to go back to the office during the day.

“This is uncharted territory,” Davis said. “So, with the puppies coming in, they're like, oh my goodness, there's other dogs here. How do I act, how do I be a puppy when I'm not with mom?”

Davis has noticed a number of people bringing in their pets because they are showing signs of separation anxiety.

“Anxiety and behavior disorders are one of the most common things that we hear from pet owners in general,” said Dr. Britt DeNuzio, a veterinarian at Kings Veterinary Hospital. “Not just the separation anxiety, but just dogs being anxious. So definitely a thing, and definitely very common.”

She describes some of those symptoms being as simple as pacing and whining to more severe cases where the animal begins to become destructive.

“It's basically a panic attack,” DeNuzio said. “They don't know when you're coming home, and they don't know how else to deal with their anxiety, and so a lot of people think that the dog was bad when they left and shredded up the couch or shredded, you know, some object. And that's not it at all. They weren't trying to be bad.”

Instead, DeNuzio believes the animal is usually just panicking without their owner. She advises her pet families to start establishing a routine when they’re getting ready to leave for the day.

“Try to offer the dog exercise before you leave, and then do what we call an inverted triangle of activity,” she said. “So we start with exercise and then maybe do a few minutes of training to get them mentally kind of stimulated, and then a few minutes of just cuddling.”

If your animal is up for being around other animals, DeNuzio recommends trying to take them to doggy daycare.

Red Dog offers evaluations of your pet so you can see how well they will interact with other people and animals.

“We just go slow and steady,” Davis said. “We don't want to make it too overwhelming to where they're scared to come in. After a couple of times of doing that slow and steady, it ends up winning the race, and then they come in and they're more excited and so they'll do better. It's suggested you reach out to your pet's veterinarian if you have concerns that your pet may be suffering from separation anxiety."