Going back to the office after working from home throughout the pandemic can leave you with all sorts of dilemmas. Our lives are forever changed as we endured months with limited access to people and places, including the office. Many people also made life-changing decisions, such as starting a family or getting a pandemic puppy.
Unfortunately, many new people made the mistake of getting a pet during the pandemic without realizing that eventually, they would have to go back to their everyday lives. For most people, that means returning to a nine to five job and leaving their puppy at home. However, dogs can get separation anxiety.
After spending every day and every night with your new best friend, they’ve grown used to your presence. Leaving your house without them can give them severe anxiety. Don’t worry; separation anxiety is common in dogs, and many trainers and behaviorists have found ways to help pet parents and their furry loved ones cope. Here’s how to prepare your pandemic puppy for when you go back to the office.
Create a Routine
Dogs love routines, and routines have been shown to decrease their anxiety, even when it comes to separation anxiety. Since you are a part of your pet’s routine, a sudden absence along with a complete change of schedule can make them feel unsure and anxious. You can prepare your pet through a gradual transition.
First, your pet might already have a schedule of some sort. For example, you take them on walks, feed them, and go for potty breaks on the lawn around the same times every day. If your pet’s usual routine is going to be completely disrupted when you start going back to the office, make small adjustments to the routine beforehand. For example, start going on your morning walk earlier in the day, at the same time you’ll take them before work. You might also have to adjust feeding times.
Making small changes can help your pet adjust to a completely new schedule before you take yourself out of the equation.
Leave Them Alone
The reason why so many dogs have separation anxiety is that they’re not left alone too often. When dogs without separation anxiety are left alone, they typically nap, chew, or play with toys. When dogs with separation anxiety are left alone, they might bark, cry, run around, or chew on shoes and furniture.
Leaving your pet alone for just a few minutes every day can teach them that you’re coming back. Every time you leave, increase the amount of time you’re gone until they start to calm down. You can track your pet’s progress by watching them on a pet camera to see whether their behavior changes after a few days of leaving them alone.
When you first start leaving your dog home alone, only do it for a few minutes, then gradually increase the duration over time so they won’t have to deal with you being gone for a full eight or nine hours right off the bat.
Train Your Pooch
Training of all sorts can help reduce dog anxiety. For example, behaviorists use training to teach dogs how to react to frightening situations, such as strangers. You can also train your pet to become less stressed when you’re gone by giving them treats or toys to play with when you leave the house. By distracting them with something they love, they’ll feel less stress when you’re gone.
Eventually, your pet might not need a distraction to feel calm when you leave the house. However, dogs are known to get bored, especially if they have high energy. It’s always a good idea to leave your dog something to do while you’re at work so they won’t get bored and chew something up.
Get More Exercise
Dogs can use exercise to reduce stress in the same way that humans can. Additionally, tiring your pup out before you leave the house can make them feel sleepy, so they’ll nap instead of worrying about where you’re going. By taking your pet on a long walk before you leave the house, they’ll get rid of excess energy that can increase anxiety.
One thing most dogs love to do is eat. You can teach your dog that being away from you is enjoyable by placing their food dish in another room. While some dogs prefer to eat with their human companion close by, dogs will never let themselves go without food for long periods, so eventually, your dog will learn that it’s okay to be away from you, especially when they’re enjoying themselves.
If your dog has a friendly personality, they might enjoy doggy daycare, where they can play with all types of dog friends and humans. Doggy daycares have playrooms inside and outside for pets and ensure your dog will have access to water and potty breaks. Depending on how long you’re gone, you may be able to add on other services such as reading stories before nap time and getting a bone in the afternoon.
When looking for doggy daycare, do your homework and make sure to read reviews online. After all, your dog is a family member, and you wanted them treated just as well as when they’re at home.
Talk to a Vet
Some dogs are prone to anxiety. While some may get over their separation anxiety, others may not. If you’ve tried everything and your pet isn’t responding to training or continues to act out when you’re away, consider speaking to a vet. Your vet may be able to recommend a dog trainer or behaviorist who can help you teach your dog how to calm their stress when you’re away. A behaviorist or vet can also provide you with medication to help your dog stay calm when you’re not at home. The goal with situational anxiety medication is to help your dog calm down enough to realize they’ll be okay without you in the house.
Leaving Your Dog at Home
Leaving your best friend behind to go to work is never fun, but it’s a necessity for most people. If your dog is suffering from anxiety of any kind, consider talking to a vet. While anxiety is common, some dogs might benefit from medication to improve their quality of life.
Marné Amoguis holds a B.A. in International Business from UC San Diego. She is a contributing writer at 365businesstips.com where she loves sharing her passion for digital marketing. Outside of writing, she loves traveling, playing music, and hiking.