Pandemic pet adoption was a sweeping trend. A whopping 49% of Americans say they got a new puppy during the lockdown, as puppies helped folks cope with raised stress levels and social anxiety.
However, as you return to work in the office, you may find that your pooch starts to experience stress and separation anxiety. While you don’t want to stress out your dog, this is entirely normal. Many puppies aren’t used to being alone and want to spend all day sleeping on your slippers and cozying up on the couch.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to keep your canine pal happy even when you’re not at home. Getting a few toys for them to play with and training them to relax in a pet room will significantly reduce your pup’s stress and ensure that you return to a happy home after a long day at work.
Get Them a Friend
There’s one ultimate solution to help your pandemic puppy cope with separation anxiety: get them a friend. If you have the time, money, and resources, you may want to buy a second dog or bringing a cat or other pet to keep your little buddy healthy and happy throughout your work day.
Getting another dog may even be good for your health. There are plenty of health benefits to getting a dog as love, affection, and responsibility can create social bonds and promote exercise. Two dogs, though a lot of work, will be sure to get you up in the morning for walks and will be happy to spend time together when you take off for your work day. Not ready to commit to having two pets is fine. You can also consider fostering or watching other people’s dog(s) while they are away and vice versa.
Alternatively, you can speak with coworkers and friends who also have dogs. If your canine pals make for good companions, you can experiment with doggy days out and at your coworker or friend’s house. Just be sure that the dogs are a good fit and that your friend takes pooch safety as seriously as you do.
If you can’t afford to get a second dog, you can still make changes that will help your puppy cope with separation anxiety. In particular, you can consider creating a pet room that is filled with your pup’s favorite activities. A pet room can help your dog relax and teaches them to chill out when you are away.
You can build the perfect pet room in any cool, well-lit room in your house. You don’t want to trap your pup in a basement where it’s dark and they risk overheating. Rooms like extra bedrooms or the corner of living rooms usually make for perfect pet rooms. If you’re worried about the heat, install a ceiling fan to keep the air circulating.
Fill your pet room with everything that belongs to your pooch. This will help clean up the rest of your home and will ensure they have access to the toy they just can’t live without. Make sure they have an extra-durable dog bed so they can spend the whole day chewing on it if they like.
Even if you buy a new pup and create the perfect pet room, you still need to train your dog to behave properly when you are away. Puppy training is an important part of your dog’s upbringing and will ensure that they know how to do basic things like going potty outside.
It may not be the most fun form of training, but try to crate-train your puppy early on. You won’t always have to leave your dog in the crate while you are away, but dogs who are used to being put in crates can be taken to friends’ houses and learn to live with some amount of separation early on.
Try to create a routine for your puppy before you leave for work. Doing the same things like feeding them, putting them in their playroom, and waking them up at the same time will help your dog feel secure and reduce their separation anxiety. Do your best to return home at the same time every day, as your dog’s internal clock will know when you’re out later than usual.
Fun, Engaging Toys
Sometimes your pooch just needs a distraction from your sudden disappearance. Other times, the toys and games help address their mental stimulation need. Remember how bored you were sheltering in place- that’s kind of what it’s like for dogs that don’t get the proper amount of play time, social interaction and walks/excursions outside the home (that means leaving the neighborhood, not just the fenced in yard or same 3 city blocks). While fun toys aren’t a replacement for proper training, they can be a useful way to retrain your pup and help them relax when you leave.
Some of the best solo dog toys involve treats and games. If your pup loves to chase things, consider getting them something like a ball launcher. If your dog loves a fun game, a puzzle ball or feeder may be ideal.
Just be sure that the dog toy you choose is completely durable. Your pooch will chew on every piece of plastic and rope there is, so you can’t leave anything to chance while you are away. Instead, try to get as many tough, durable toys as they want and give them a healthy amount of treats to keep them occupied.
If you usually work from home, your pup may experience separation anxiety when you return to the office. You can help reduce their stress by creating a puppy playroom and training them to relax when you leave. A few durable toys may make the whole experience more relaxing and help you work without worrying about your puppy fretting over your sudden disappearance.
photo credit: Unsplash
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