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Preparing your pets for life after quarantine

Dog trainers say animals can develop separation anxiety if they aren't prepared for owners going back to work.

KENT COUNTY, Mich — As more businesses reopen, employees will be heading back to work. Just as humans are urged to mentally prepare for the change, pet experts say animals will need to as well.

"Your dog is going to freak out, and the separation anxiety cases I’m confident are going to sky rocket," Kim Steffes, owner of Kim's K-9 Training Center in Kentwood, warned.

She said the key to managing our pets expectation and emotions is to reintroduce them to their normal routine, to prepare them for the change.

"Just before school starts, parents start a couple weeks beforehand, putting the kids to bed a little bit earlier. They kind of get back into that routine, so it’s not a shock when school actually starts and they have to get up early and go to bed early. That’s what people should be doing for their dogs," Steffes explained.

If you normally crate your pet while you're out, Steffes recommends adding that into your routine again, even if you're home.

"If you are typically working 8 hours a day, and your dog is crated or confined for 8 hours a day, please don’t wait until May 15 to start doing that again," she said.

She also warns against being overly touchy or affectionate to your pet, because it can make them more dependent on you.

"That is a handicap for your dog. People say oh that’s adorable. It’s not. That is a handicap," Steffes said.

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While routine is a large part preparing for the months ahead, Steffes said it comes down to how confident and comfortable an animal is to be alone.

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"To let you leave and come out of the room and be okay with it," she explained, saying a good exercise is putting the animal in solitude with safe toys. 

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