After more than a year of working from home, your office may be calling you back in. While some employees will go back on hybrid schedules, others may be returning to their offices full time, leaving their beloved pets at home alone for the first time in a very long time.
Help your dog to adjust to your absence by easing into these changes in your schedules. Plan ahead, schedule extra exercise and play and be sure to prioritize your own emotional health along the way. Most dogs will be able to transition smoothly, but some may struggle. Watch for signs of distress, and reach out for help from your veterinarian or animal behaviorist.
Most importantly, remember that you’re in it together, and with some careful planning and taking it slow, you can both adjust well. Here are 5 tips to help your pup adjust to your return to work.
Ease Into the Transition Slowly
Rather than leaving for the office all day out of the blue, start to prepare your dog for your absence slowly. You might want to take a couple of weeks to go in for several hours a day each day, to help them get used to your being gone. Pick up food puzzles or new toys to help them stay stimulated while you’re gone, and try not to make a big deal of leaving or returning.
Schedule Exercise & Play
Plan to give your pup extra exercise and play time when you come home – which will be good for you both after a long day. Schedule a long walk before you leave and a long walk when you return. Take your pup to his favorite park to throw the ball or catch the frisbee. If you can, try to come home midday for a short walk, and if not, consider scheduling a dog walker who might be able to take them out for a short stroll to break up the day.
If you have a high energy dog, an extra social dog or even a new dog who hasn’t had any experience with time alone, it may be worth signing him up for doggy daycare for at least a few days a week. This can help to keep him engaged and exercising, rather than at home missing you.
Watch for Changes in Your Dog’s Behavior
Be mindful of your dog’s sudden change in behavior, like becoming destructive, soiling carpets or shaking/trembling. These are likely signs of distress, and it’s important to address them right away. Contact your veterinarian or seek support from an animal behaviorist. There are many methods for supporting a pup through anxiety or stress, but it’s most important to get the help you need right away rather than let bad habits form that will affect your relationship.
Take Care of Your Mental Health
Be mindful of your own mental health during this transition. The emotional strain of the last year might be weighing on you already, and a dramatic change to your schedule may feel difficult or overwhelming. Your emotional health will always affect your animal’s health, as they’re perceptive creatures who can sense your emotional state. Give yourself forgiveness for fumbling along, and seek out mental health support when you need it. You and your pup are going through all of this together, and together, you can smoothly move forward into whatever changes may come.