Separation Distress in Pets and What You Can Do

Adopt a Pet Animal Welfare Pet Care Pets Pet Health Animals Posted Dec 1, 2020
Now that life is looking more and more like business as usual, your favourite colleague will have to adjust too.

One thing we may not realise going back to work, is how our pets will react. Unfortunately, animals can experience separation distress, which could be especially heightened in this time of change. Separation distress in pets occurs when they are left alone and are upset at the concept their human isn’t around. This can lead to a range of behaviours like escaping, destruction, etc.

However, it’s important to ensure your vet diagnoses separation distress in your dog as similar behaviours can be associated with just pet boredom!

Fortunately, there are options for you to help your pet deal with separation distress.

Set a routine

If you have not resisted cuddling your furry friend 9-5 (and overtime) it’s good to start implementing a routine before you return to the office. Designate a time for sleep and a time for play. By letting your pet get a balance of these two basic elements, they will start to understand that it is okay not to receive cuddles 24/7. With play time, try to encourage self-directed toys.  Long-lasting treat toys can be great enrichment and help promote the idea that time alone can be fun.


One sign of separation anxiety could be the need and ability for your dog to escape. This is heartbreaking for every pet owner, so it is important that you not only microchip your beloved friend, but also make sure your microchipping details are up to date. To update your pet’s microchip details, contact your vet for the number and go to Pet Address. If your pet is not yet microchipped, head to HomeSafeID to register them. Here are some more steps to make sure, in the event of a great escape, your pooch ends up in the right home.

border collie lying down


One strategy to combat this anxiety, which you can do right now, is practice desensitisation. Again, consult your vet for advice first. Desensitisation is as simple as acting out your departure cues – grabbing your keys, wallet, heading for the door – and then sitting back on your couch. This decreases your dog’s sensitivity to your departure. By gradually increasing the time spent alone – leaving the house for a couple of seconds, leaving the house for a couple of hours – your dog will start to realise that it’s okay to be alone.

Let PetCloud ease your mind

If you’re worried about your pet being left alone all day while you’re at work, PetCloud has your answer. PetCloud offers services such as pet sitting, dog walking, house sitting, home visits and so much more. This takes the stress off of you and will allow you to complete that spreadsheet in peace.

School for Dogs Behaviour training

Think your dog may need to brush up on their skills and manners? Within the many training classes that School for Dogs offers, this one could be perfect for your pooch, especially if they are experiencing some form of separation distress. Not only is the Behaviour Problems consult run by our RSPCA professionals who can give you great advice, it is also one-on-one, meaning your dog will excel even further. 

two border collies

Although separation distress is very real for some pets, there are many options you can implement today to help ease the transition from favourite colleague to best friend.

For more tips and tricks you can try for separation distress, read on here.

Jemima Moore
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