April 14, 2020

Potential separation anxiety risk. Post COVID-19

On the back of the wonderful articles and ideas from dog training expert Brydie Charlesworth from the Dog Education Centre; We’re excited to introduce Mr. John Harkin; director of AUSDOG considered one of Australia’s leading canine behaviour specialist.  John has over 30 years experience in dog behaviour working across a broad spectrum of the canine industry with his particular focus these days; on family dogs.

A bit about John.

When people ask me what I do, my answer is simple: I improve the quality of life for dogs and their owners. And with such high dog euthanasia rates across Australia, I believe my work can really make a difference.

My job allows me to change lives every day. I help puppies grow into confident, obedient dogs. I help poorly behaved dogs overcome complex challenges. And I help dog owners and their children fully enjoy and value their companion every day of its life.

My expertise has taken me far and wide – from Singapore and Malaysia to Papua New Guinea and Brunei.

Although I regularly focus on the everyday training needs of dogs and their families, I am also recognised as one of Australia’s most accomplished remedial behavioural specialists.

I really do have the best job in the world!

Important information for dog owners post COVID-19. How to avoid separation anxiety.

Under the current restrictions you’re probably noticing how much more attention your family dog is receiving.  Not just from you but having the kids at home, the dog can well become the centre of attention and he/she is lapping it up and loving it.  You may have had rules in place about where the dog can be, on the couch, not on the couch, in the bedrooms, not in the bedrooms, inside, outside whatever routines you worked hard to establish have most likely gone out the window. Our dogs have no idea what COVID-19 is about but what they do know is life has never been better.

Something we may not be aware of or even thinking too much about, is what happens to our dogs, when normality resumes; and it will.  We’re people and we’ll quickly return to our previous lives, sure we will have learned some lessons and hopefully for the better, but life will go on, suddenly the spotlight begins to dim on the poor old pooch. The very real danger is the dog can quickly develop separation anxiety.

What can I do to avoid Separation Anxiety developing?

Being aware makes all the difference. During this time there is one thing you can do which will help your pet and you in the long term.

Make sure your pet is outside or alternatively away from family influence for at least 1/3 of your time at home. This will be extra hard when you have the kids at home, however it is very important for life after COVID -19.

This is the kindest thing you can do to avoid him or her going through unnecessary anxiety, otherwise this can become a very serious problem.

It is also a good idea to spend time outside with your dog. It is very important that your dog should never consider outside to be a punishment area.

10 years ago, I would attend to an average of one dog per month with Separation Anxiety and now I attend to an average of 30 dogs per month with Separation Anxiety.

This is not good for your dog and not good for you and your family.

During this unusual time, we want to avoid any further stress on your family dog and subsequently on you. This simple but highly effective technique, may sound a little harsh, however its intent is the best option for you and your dog when normality returns.

John Harkin
Professional Dog Trainer – Canine Behavioural Specialist



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Potential separation anxiety risk. Post COVID-19 - Balanced Life