A DOG food company has consulted with a dog behaviourist to provide expert advice on reducing separation anxiety when dog owners return to workplaces now that coronavirus restrictions are easing.

ProDog Raw consulted with animal behaviourist Bryony Cole from Eye to Eye Dogs to create a guide for owners on how to avoid separation anxiety in their dogs.

The topic is already being extensively searched for by the public, with Google trend search data showing a 250 per cent increase in searches for 'how to treat separation anxiety in dogs'.

Last year saw demand for dogs skyrocket, however, animal charities such as the RSPCA and Scottish SPCA have since reported that they have ‘serious concerns’ about the number of dogs that will be abandoned as lockdown restrictions end, especially as rescue shelters have already ‘hit capacity’.

Many new dog owners will have been spending the majority of time at home with their animals, which is likely to change with restrictions easing, leaving some owners unsure of how their dog will cope.

There is a danger that some dogs may suffer from separation anxiety when left alone.

Signs of separation anxiety can include destructive behaviour, unwanted toileting and excessive barking/howling.

Five tips to prepare a dog to be left alone:

1. Test runs

Dogs and owners will have fully adjusted to working from home life by now and trial runs are recommended before returning to the office.

Run through a typical morning routine with the dog and start by leaving them in the house for five minutes and then slowly build up the duration.

2. A brisk walk

Taking a dog out for a brisk walk before leaving for work in the morning helps to burn off any excess energy and puts them in the mood to relax - a 45 minute walk is the minimum required for most breeds if they’re being left indoors alone for a significant amount of time.

3. Find a trusted dog walker to break up the day

Whether it is a family member, friend or a professional dog walker, it is a good idea to have a reliable person check in on the dog during the day to give them the opportunity to get some fresh air, exercise and relieve themselves.

Ideally dogs will not be left alone for longer than six hours and puppies shouldn’t be left alone for more than two hours.

If a dog walker is too expensive to use regularly, sites like Borrow my Doggy connect dog lovers with families whose pet needs attention/walking.

4. Rotate toys

When home alone, try to rotate the dog’s toys day to day, to give them a different experience and reduce the chances of them getting bored.

5. Separate dog into a separate room while working from home

While still working from home, spend periods of the day with the dog shut in a different room to test how they behave while separated.

This should get them used to being away from their owner and can help build up their tolerance for isolation.

Like with the test runs, the duration of time should be increased each time from five to ten minutes.

Heidi Maskelyne, founder of ProDog Raw, said: “Returning to the office is going to be tough for both owners and dogs, we have loved having all this extra time with our dogs and they have loved spending it with us.

“It is understandable that some new owners may be a little concerned about how their dog will cope with these changes, however by following these simple steps it will be possible to make the transition as smooth as possible, and prevent any more dogs being sent unnecessarily to the already overcrowded shelters.

“The key to getting past this separation anxiety is to be prepared.

“Try some test runs of leaving your dog in a different room alone at first, and then slowly expose them to their new circumstances, being sure to keep an eye on their behaviour in case they display any anxiety, as this will need to be addressed straight away.”

To view the full guide visit: prodograw.com/how-to-prevent-separation-anxiety-in-your-dog-when-returning-to-the-office/