Trainers Look For Ways To Keep Dogs Calm And Occupied To Ease Separation Anxiety

With the warmer weather and loosening coronavirus restrictions, many dog owners are getting out more often. But, they're noticing their pets experience separation anxiety when they're alone. CBS2's Cindy Hsu reports.

Video Transcript

- During the pandemic, many people decided to get a dog since they were home all the time.

- But with the warmer weather and loosening restrictions, many people are getting out more often. They're concerned about their dog's separation anxiety. CBS2's Cindy Shu explains how to make your pet feel safe.

CINDY SHU: Marcy Friede loves her dog Jacks. But when her two daughters left for college after their campuses opened up, everything changed, and her seven-year-old pup became very needy.

MARCY FRIEDE: Follows me around everywhere, barks at me, wakes me up at 6:00, hitting me.

CINDY SHU: He'll also sit and stare at Marcy nonstop.

MARCY FRIEDE: Now he's stuck with me, and he's not happy about it.

CINDY SHU: Now meet Phoenix who goes berserk when he's left alone.

MARCY FRIEDE: When we leave, he has severe anxiety. He screams, he howls.

CINDY SHU: And he doesn't stop. He's so used to his owners being home that when Ashley and Justin try to leave for a bit, they need to find a dog sitter. And they tried just about everything.

MARCY FRIEDE: We got the thunder jacket, returned that, CBD chews, like, lavender oil.

CINDY SHU: Amanda Gannon is a dog trainer and says most owners need to leave their dogs alone more often.

AMANDA GANNON: One is just so that they have that COVID skill of being away from you. But also, because we're not going to be home forever.

CINDY SHU: She says adult dogs can be left alone four to five hours at a time, as long as they have something to do while you're gone. Gannon suggests leaving a kong toy filled with treats or food, and giving it to them in their crate or bed. It'll take them a while to dig out all the good stuff.

AMANDA GANNON: As soon as you're getting ready to leave, you give them something and you go. And dogs can actually get to the point where they look forward to you leaving.

CINDY SHU: It's also important not to get all excited and make a big fuss when you leave, or when you return home.

AMANDA GANNON: Us coming in the door and acting like it was a big deal that we were gone actually can make the anxiety worse.

CINDY SHU: Amanda showed us how it's done with Zoozoo.

AMANDA GANNON: And while she's engaged with that, without making any fanfare, I'll leave the house.

CINDY SHU: You can leave for short increments of time, stretching it out out a little longer as you go.

AMANDA GANNON: And then come back, again with no fanfare, totally relaxed, take the kong away for a second. And you can actually see Zoozoo is already ready for me to leave.

CINDY SHU: Teaching your dog to enjoy their alone time will make your time together even better. On the Upper West Side, Cindy Shu, CBS2 News.

- And experts from us, you can also use a computer or video camera to get a better idea of what your dog is doing while you're gone. But you feels so bad. My dog just goes crazy when we leave now. He's just howling and upset.

- And do you have a camera on him?

- No. Not right now.

- Or her. Sorry.

- Used to be she couldn't care less when we left the house. Right? Just sleeping. So we'll get there.

- Yeah.

- With increments.