Pandemic Pet Adopters Noticing Separation Anxiety As Jobs Welcome Back Employees, Forcing Them Away From Home

Many people who jumped at the chance to become pet owners during the pandemic are now realizing that their furry friends have separation anxiety issues due to the comfortability of their humans being at home all the time. Alex Biston reports.

Video Transcript

- There's been a big increase in pet adoptions during the pandemic. But what happens when owners go back to work full-time? That is a concern for a lot of animal lovers. KCAL 9's Alex Biston has some warnings and tips for dealing with pet anxiety.

LESLEY FELDMAN: Are you serious?

ALEX BISTON: For Lesley and Chelsea, the decision to get a puppy during the COVID-19 lockdown, in early 2020, was a commitment they were excited to make.

LESLEY FELDMAN: It was the beginning of quarantine, and I looked at Chelsea one night, and I was like, I want a puppy. I'm lonely.

ALEX BISTON: That's when they welcomed a new addition to their family, an Aussiedoodle, named Quinn.

LESLEY FELDMAN: We call her quarantine Quinn.

ALEX BISTON: It was the perfect environment to raise a puppy, since both Lesley and Chelsea work from home. But now, restrictions are relaxing, and many people are heading back into the office and school.

LESLEY FELDMAN: And if we go back to like a work life, we both kind of work more than eight-hour days.

ROSS LEVY: How are you?

ALEX BISTON: Ross Levy is the co-owner of The Mindful Dog, a day care facility in Van Nuys. He's noticed the dogs he cares for, especially puppies born during the pandemic, are experiencing anxiousness when it comes time to part from their owners. And it's not just the pets.

ROSS LEVY: Because now Mom and Dad are gone again, dogs were used to them being home, the owners get nervous, because, all of a sudden, is my dog going to be OK home alone? That nervous energy can transfer to the dog.

GUADALUPE RAMIREZ: Most animals will look for signs. For example, you know, you're going to put on your-- your work shoes. You're going to go grab your keys-- you know, your car keys. They start noticing, and they start associating that with, oh, my owner is leaving me.

ALEX BISTON: And Ramirez says that association can generate depression or destructive behaviors when pets are faced with sudden separation. Her advice to help ease the transition, start small.

GUADALUPE RAMIREZ: Place your-- you know, your-- your animal in another room. And just let them know you're obviously going to be there to watch them. But you know, you're giving them that time already to kind of start slowly detaching themselves from you, so that they're not super concerned when you're leaving for a longer period of time.

ALEX BISTON: Animal services recommends having multiple treats and toys to help keep your dog occupied through the day. Also, they say you should try to take your pet on a walk before you leave the house and then when you come home. That will help them expel extra energy. Alex Biston. KCAL 9 News.

- Aw.