After enduring more than a year of travel restrictions, we seem to be turning the corner on the pandemic. Good for us, but that’s not music to the ears of that devoted canine resting at your feet while you tap away on your laptop for hours. And by your side again while watching you zoom with your family and co-workers – if you still had a job. No doubt gym goers walked and played more with the family dog. As a stay home pet parent, your dog has finally won the canine lotto. The lucky canines will continue to enjoy stay at home pet parents. For others, a return to the commuting workforce may leave your pet companion confused and possibly anxious. That “doggy in the window” may spend hours watching for your return. For those canines who cannot adjust to your frequent, lengthy departures – your absence could result in destructive behavior. In veterinary words, we refer to it as separation anxiety. This change in your dog’s behavior becomes evident when he starts to recognize your pre-departure routine. Simple tasks such as grabbing your briefcase or car keys as your feet are walking towards the door can put your dog on alert. Sometime after your departure, your dog may start pacing, panting and vocalizing. Anyone who has suffered a panic attack will appreciate these distress signals and want to mitigate the behavior. To be sure, catch it on camera with a nanny cam. However, you won’t need a nanny cam if your dog’s behavior escalates into the home destruction kind. In a desperate attempt to escape, door jams, doors and surrounding walls are chewed through and scratched, often resulting in self-inflicted trauma. Sometimes it’s the furniture that takes the beating. Urination and defecation in an otherwise house-trained pet can also signal distress. Now, before you reach for the pill bottle, read on. As previously noted, pets with separation anxiety have memorized their pet parents’ daily routine. They watch your movements in anticipation. Feeding time, outdoor walks (just reach for a leash) and play time. These are the best times of the day. However, doors that lead to an entry way or garage signal that your departure is imminent. Uh oh. Alone time is great if you are a teenager. In contrast, our companion dogs remain dependent children. With that in mind, we can work to modify unwanted behaviors. First, identify the cues that your pet perceives as a departure. For example, if the jingle of car keys is alerting a stress response, then perform that act at times when you do not plan to leave the house. Do this multiple times each week – helping to dissociate the cue. Next, set up a schedule of short departures – leaving the house for only 5 minutes. Monitor your pet’s reaction via video cameras and gradually extend departure times. In additional to behavior modification methods, it may be necessary to work with your vet. The two commonly used drugs to treat this disorder can significantly reduce fear and panic. Reconcile (fluoxetine) and Clomicalm (clomipramine) are FDA approved for daily use in dogs with separation anxiety in conjunction with behavior modification. On a sidenote, I’d like to mention that many people suffer from anxiety and panic attacks – more so now than before the pandemic. We’ve been separated from friends and family – a separation like never before.