We’re connecting you with the community. Please mask up, watch your distance, and wash your hands for each other and our healthcare workers!

Prevent Your Dog from Getting Separation Anxiety during COVID-19

A Dog's Dream and Sally Said So Dog Training

A Dog’s Dream and Sally Said So! Professional Dog Training have teamed up to help prevent a Petdemic caused by separation anxiety

High energy dogs need a lot of exercise! My dog Finn is one of them. There are days when I don’t have time to walk him so, he’s been going to A Dog’s Dream for day play since he was a puppy. It’s a great way for him to socialize and exercise! They also offer boarding, grooming, and have a pet boutique. Dan Spangler is the owner and a fellow veteran. Whether Finn is at dog play or boarding, I’ve never worried about him because I trust Dan and his team. You can also watch your dog play on their webcams!

Dan is always looking for ways to help others and improve his business. Lately, A Dog’s Dream has been offering “Essential Worker” discounts and “Dog Training Days”.

I had the opportunity to meet Shane Gentry, owner of Sally Said So! Professional Dog Training when I picked Finn up at A Dog’s Dream.

Wanting to learn more, I asked Shane Gentry about his business. He started his company 11 years ago in Raleigh. They have trainers who provide services in New Bern to the Wilmington area, The Triangle, The Triad, Charlotte, and Asheville, NC.

We were talking about living through this social distancing period. Shane emphasized the importance of preventing dog separation anxiety, “Since dogs don’t know that we’re in a pandemic, we’re going to actually create a petdemic. Since most of us are home now 24/7, when we’re not normally home as much, the dogs are gonna get used to us being home. Then everything goes back to normal, we get back to work, and the dogs get separation anxiety. We have to get on the front side of the petdemic that’s coming. We’ve got to get a hold of the separation anxiety issues that are going to happen when everything goes back to normal.”

Shane advised, “There are some very easy ways to prevent a petdemic. Separate your dog from you for short periods of time, lots of times throughout the day! So even if you’re home every day, you should still put your dog in the crate, in the backyard, in their run, laundry room, or something to create a healthy separateness from you and your dog. So, when you do go back to your normal life, your dog is normal vs. stuck to you like Velcro for two months and then you disappear for an infinite amount of time. My dog doesn’t know whether I’m going out to my truck to get something or if I’m gonna be gone for hours. There are no bye-byes or see you later, just leave. Those are the precursors that load dogs up to be anxious because they already know that you’re leaving. Just leave.”

I also asked if it was true that if dogs feel that the household is out of order/control, they feel the need to take control or act out? He replied, “To an extent. It’s not necessarily in control, it’s anxious. Anxiety for a dog is the worst possible thing for them. Just like stress is bad for us, anxiety is the root of all undesirable dog behavior. The number one contributor to anxiety in dogs is inconsistent handling. So, if the environment is not consistent, then they get anxious, we try to treat them like people. That’s not what they need, therefore we actually end up inadvertently reinforcing the undesirable behaviors because we feel sorry for them.”

I asked Shane if he had advice for people who decide to adopt a dog during the pandemic. He said, “It’s natural human emotion, especially from a rescue standpoint to have compassion and feel like I want to do the best thing that I can for this dog so I’m going to take them out of this bad situation and bring them into my nice house and great space and let them go, with no training. That’s bad.”

That would be the prime time to call Shane. He said, “Yes, we educate humans, we train dogs. It’s the perfect time to call us”.

We talked about the importance of exercise for dogs. He said, “When you’re in a situation where you’re not able to give your active dog an active lifestyle, a perfectly good and exceptional option is a behaviorally forward thinking daycare like A Dog’s Dream to bring your dog and drop them off where the staff are educated in behavior. It’s a step above the average doggy daycare in the sense that the staff are behaviorally friendly and knowledgeable.

Off topic, I asked Shane if rescued dogs who are afraid of thunderstorms, gunshots, and loud noises, hang on to those fears for the rest of their lives. He responded, “To an extent. The best way to sum that up is that dogs are the way they are because of their past but they don’t know it, they don’t dwell in the past or have anxiety about the future. They live in the right now so we have to treat them in the right now. For instance, let’s say something less than nice happened to a dog before you got them, if they were introduced to that situation again, they may have an adverse reaction to it, but they’re not laying down at the end of the day thinking about it. So, in that particular case, they are who they are because of their past. They don’t know it, what we do with them in the right now, is what changes them if you treat them through desensitization training.”

For details, visit Sally Said So! Professional Dog Training or call 919-589-3985 and check out A Dog’s Dream located at 1819 Racetrack Rd. or call them at 252-514-2502.

We hope this information will help you and your dog during these challenging times.

Wendy Card