Working from home over the last few months or years means you got to spend all day every day with your pet. While it may have been a great opportunity to bond, allowing you to work on the couch while they snuggled up next to you, it may have also been detrimental to emotional well-being. Your dog loves spending time with you and getting to spend every day by your side probably made them the happiest they’ve ever been. However, now that they’ve gotten used to you being around daily, you have to return to the office.
Of course, we all knew this day would come, but your dog didn’t. The transition from home back to the office isn’t just difficult for you; it’s difficult for your dog because they adjusted to a new routine that involves you being near them 24 hours a day. Unfortunately, many dogs will have separation anxiety for the first few weeks you’re back at the office. Luckily, separation anxiety doesn’t have to last forever. Here’s how to make the transition easier for your pet when you head back to the office.
Ease Into It
Even though you might not be required to return to the office yet, you should still start preparing your pet for your departure by leaving them alone for small chunks of time. A gradual change can help them adjust quickly and learn that you always return home to them.
Start by leaving the house for a few minutes or hours every day to teach them that you always come back. If your dog has severe separation anxiety, they might howl, bark, scream, or engage in destructive behavior. Therefore, you might have to start by leaving them alone for a few minutes until they can calm themselves down and get used to the idea of you being gone.
If you want to know how your dog reacts when you leave, you can set up a pet camera and watch them from outside your dog. Make sure your dog can’t see you, allowing you to see how they’ll react to your being gone. Dogs who react poorly will need a longer transition period.
Taking your dog on a long walk before you leave for the day can help them feel more relaxed when you’re gone. Also, since dogs with nervous energy are more likely to misbehave while you’re away, you can allow them to release that energy and tire themselves out to prevent accidents or destructive behavior.
If you can make it home on your lunch break for a quick walk, you can keep your dog relaxed all day long. However, you can also hire a dog walker to take care of your pet while you’re away. You can also leave your dog with interactive toys to keep them occupied while you’re away. Lick mats, shredding toys, and automatic ball throwers can all help you keep your dog entertained while you’re out at work.
Try Doggy Daycare
Not all dogs are cut out for doggy daycare. If your dog is reactive or doesn’t play well with other animals or people, they are better off being left at home while you work. However, if your dog loves playing with other dogs and people, they might enjoy spending time at a doggy daycare where all their needs can be met. If you don’t think your dog will enjoy their time at doggy daycare, you can set up your backyard to be dog-friendly and entertaining.
Expect Behavioral Changes
Dogs are similar to young children– if their schedule changes, they could go into panic mode. Therefore, you can expect at least a few behavioral changes when you head back to work. For example, your dog might have more accidents in the home while you’re away, or they may chew up shoes even though they haven’t behaved that way since they were puppies.
Until your dog gets used to their new routine, they may act a little strange. However, by keeping your new routine, you can help your dog predict what their day will look like to help ease any separation anxiety.
Don’t Make It a Big Deal
You’ll miss your dog while you’re away, but don’t make entrances and exits a big deal because it can make separation anxiety worse for dogs. For example, when you leave in the morning, you can pet your dog and say goodbye, but don’t overreact because it can make them nervous. Then, when you come home, wait for your dog to calm down before you show them attention. While you may be excited to see your dog and want to hug them, by ignoring them you’re telling them that your absence wasn’t a big deal, allowing them to understand that you’ll always come back home to them.
Consider Pet Tech
There are many different forms of pet tech. You may already have a pet camera that allows you to see what your pets are up to when you’re away. But, you can invest in more advanced pet tech that allows you to video chat with your pet and give them treats while you’re away. Hearing your voice may help your dog cope with separation anxiety, but treats will definitely make them feel better when you’re away.
When you leave, watch your dog through the pet camera on the device. If your dog barks or shows signs of separation anxiety, you can wait for them to calm down and give them a treat remotely. Rewarding your dog for being calm can help them associate your leaving with a reward, making the process easier for everyone.
Leave Behind Clothing
Your pets love you, which is why your dog or cat always finds your socks to play with or clothes to sleep on. Your scent can help calm your pets when you’re away, so leave them articles of clothing that haven’t yet been cleaned, so they have something to sleep on to quell their anxiety while you’re at work.
These are all great techniques for helping your pet adjust when you return to work with ample notice. However, what if you’re not given much time to prepare them? Unfortunately, you won’t have time to help your dog get used to a new schedule, but dogs are resilient and will eventually adjust. You can also discuss your dog’s anxiety problems with a vet behaviorist who can help them manage their separation anxiety so they’re not as stressed while you’re away.
Julia Olivas graduated from San Francisco State University with her B.A. in Communication Studies. She is a freelance who loves sharing her passion for digital marketing and content creation. Outside of writing, she loves cooking, reading, painting, and her pup Ruby.
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