Is your dog ready for you to go back to work?
Updated: Jun 18
Our dogs have gotten use to us being home all of the time. Some dogs think that is awesome and never want it to end while others might be ready for a break from us interrupting their naps. This change back to "normal" can be stressful and
may cause some separation anxiety. I am going to share some tips for helping your dog adjust to you going back to your routine.
Photo by Charles Deluvio
If you are preparing to go back to work and you are concerned that this might have a negative effect on your dog or you have returned to work and your dog is showing signs of stress, here are some things to try.
If you have not returned to work yet:
- Start leaving the house for short periods of time to see how your dog reacts. If your
dog responds negatively, then start slow. You can leave your dog in the bedroom and
go to the other side of the door. Wait just a few short seconds and then show your
dog that you are still there and give them a treat. Continue with this exercise and
gradually work your way to leaving out the front door. Gradually adding more time.
- Another exercise is to perform portions of your morning routine such as taking a
shower, getting dressed in work clothes or whatever you normally do on a work day.
If your dog seems a little concerned about these activities, then you can do random
portions of your routine including grabbing your keys and then sit down, watch tv or
read a book. The goal is for your dog to not associate these activities with you
leaving every time. You can even begin to associate grabbing your keys with giving
your dog an extra yummy treat that they only get at this time of day.
- If you have a puppy and you are not comfortable with them being out of their crate
while you are gone, you are going to want to start to get them use to being in their
crate for longer periods of time. They have probably been out of their crate more
than usual lately. You can also put something of yours like a t-shirt with your scent in
the crate or add a little food toy. You want them to think of their crate as a safe
space. It should not cause them stress.
If you have returned to work and noticed that you dog is showing signs of stress:
- If you do not have food toys currently, you might want to consider getting some.
You can use a Kong stuffed with peanut butter. If you have a dog that munches
food quickly you might want to freeze the Kong so it takes them a while longer to
get all of the peanut butter. Rockin Treat Ball can be filled with kibble or small
treat. The dog must roll the ball around to make it spill the treats on the floor. Cycle
Dog has a variety of sizes and shapes of food activity toys for all sized dogs that are
made from eco-friendly, sustainable, recycled materials. Please supervise your dog
with these toys before you leave them alone with them. If your dog seems like the toy
would be too arousing and you are concerned that your dog might get too
aggressive with the toy or try to eat it, then you might want to consider just leaving
some treats around for them to search for once you leave. Safety first!
- Plan some exercise time into your morning routine. A tired dog is less likely to get
stressed at your departure as they will be ready for a nap. Exercise in general, both
physical and mental goes a long way toward a happy and relaxed dog.
- Do not make a big deal about your departure or return. This will have a calming
effect on your dog. If they feel that you coming and going is not a big event then
they are less likely to respond to it in a stressful manner.
- If your dog is not destructive, try leaving something with your scent, like a sock or
t-shirt so that your dog has the comfort of your scent.
- Sounds outside of your home or apartment can be scary, especially for a dog that is
already a little stressed. Try leaving a calm tv station or music on for your dog to
mask outdoor noise.
Photo by Michael Siebert
Here are some signs of stress that you will want to watch for:
-lip licking when no food is around
-panting excessive in the absence of heat or recent exercise
These are suggestions for the dog that may be experiencing minor separation anxiety and should not be considered a treatment plan. Each dog is individual, just like us and different things work for different dogs. If your dog does not respond to these techniques or you feel that your dog is having a severe case of separation anxiety, please contact a professional trainer or animal behaviorist in your area. You can also check out theses articles from the Oregon Humane Society and the ASPCA.
Now get home. Your dog is waiting for you.
Photo by Amit Karkare