By Cindy Hsu

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Many people decided to get a dog during the pandemic because they were home all the time. But with warmer weather and loosening restrictions, people are now getting out more often.

As CBS2’s Cindy Hsu reported, dog owners are getting concerned about their pet’s separation anxiety.

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Marci Freede loves her dog Jax. But when her two daughters left for college when campuses reopened, everything changed and 7-year-old Jax became very needy.

“Follows me around everywhere, barks at me, wakes me up at six o’clock, hitting me,” Freede said.

He’ll also sit and stare at her, nonstop.

Then, there’s Phoenix who goes berserk when he’s left alone.

“When we leave, he has severe anxiety. He screams, he howls,” said Ashley Fern-Rothberg.

And he doesn’t stop.

Phoenix was so used to his owners being home that when Ashley and Justin try to leave for a bit, they need to find a dog sitter. They’ve tried just about everything.

“We got the thunder jacket, returned that. CBD chews, lavender oil,” Fern-Rothberg explained.

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Amanda Gagnon is a dog trainer. She said most owners need to leave their dogs alone more often.

“One is just so that they have that coping skill of being away from you, but also because we’re not going to be home forever,” Gagnon said.

According to Gagnon, adult dogs can be left alone four to five hours at a time as long as they have something to do while you’re gone.

She suggests leaving a toy filled with treats or food and giving it to them in their crate or bed. It’ll take them awhile to dig out all the good stuff.

“As soon as you’re getting ready to leave, you give them something and you go, and dogs can actually get to the point where they look forward to you leaving,” said Gagnon.

It’s also important not to get excited and make a fuss when you leave or return home.

“Us coming in the door and acting like it was a big deal that we were going actually can make the anxiety worse,” said Gagnon.

You can leave for short increments of time, stretching it out a little longer as you go, Gagnon explained.

Experts say you can also use a computer or video camera to get a better idea of what your dog is doing while you’re gone.

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But teaching your dog to enjoy their alone time will make your time together even better.

Cindy Hsu