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Tip Sheets

Preparing pets for post-quarantine life

With stay-at-home orders put in place during the pandemic, our four-legged friends have been getting some extra time with their owners. As some states start to ease restrictions, this change in the daily schedule is apt to trigger anxiety in pets, particularly in dogs.


Katherine Houpt

Katherine Houpt

James Law Professor Emeritus, Section of Behavior Medicine

Dr. Katherine Houpt, professor emeritus of behavior medicine at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine offers advice on how to prepare pets for post-quarantine life.

Houpt says:

“The shelter-in-place rules have been in place long enough that your pet has become accustomed to your company all the time. While we are all eager to return to our pre-quarantine life, there may be a downside: dogs may be anxious when you leave the house without them. They may express this anxiety by barking, by destroying things and by eliminating.

“In order to reduce the probability of this happening there are a few things you can do to ‘vaccinate’ your dog against separation anxiety.

“The first step is to teach your dog to stay. You will know that they have grasped the concept when you can leave the room and they stay sitting quietly even while you’re in another room. At this point you can practice leaving them by going out the door and remaining outside for five minutes. Be sure to reward your dog with a small treat.

“When you are heading out for your first day back at work, it would be best to give them a brisk walk or a game of fetch before you leave. Before you leave be sure to leave a long-lasting treat such as a rawhide or a Kong toy with frozen melted cheese inside. When you come home don’t greet them until they are calm and not jumping on you or running in circles.

“There are medications for dogs with separation anxiety which our veterinarian can prescribe, but it would be best to prevent the problem from arising.”

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