• June 15th, 2021
    Written by: Kimberly

    With vaccination numbers rising and social distancing restrictions loosening, many people are finally heading back to the office after a year of remote work. Others are going to be spending more time away from home visiting friends, dining out, attending children’s activities, and more.

    Your time away from home is going to be a shock to your dog. Whether you are one of the record millions of families who brought home a new dog during the pandemic or your long time family pet has gotten used to spending everyday with you, some training before you head back to work will help decrease your pup’s separation anxiety and give you less reason to worry while you are away.

    How to Avoid Post-Pandemic Separation Anxiety for Your Dog

    Like most behaviors, you can train your dog to be comfortable while you are gone. It will take a few weeks and some effort on your part. This process is best when you and your dog can gradually work your way up to 8 hours of alone time rather than subjecting your dog to hours of being alone without any preparation. This can cause unnecessary stress for your dog.

    Gradually working your way up requires beginning early. On average, dogs can take about 4 weeks to adjust to this new routine, so you will want to begin as soon as possible and follow these steps to make the transition:

    • Start Small - In the beginning, leave your dog only for a couple of hours. Add another hour every few days until you have reached the amount of time you’ll be out of the house for work
    • Keep Calm - You are excited to see your dog after any time away. But instead of immediately acknowledging your dog when you come home, focus on other activities for a few minutes. Likewise, try not to create a routine around leaving. Pick up your car keys or purse at various times throughout the day so that your dog doesn’t associate those actions with your immediate departure. When you treat leaving and returning like no big deal, you help your dog to see it the same way.
    • Keep Your Routine - Dogs like their routines and you going back to work will be a big change to that routine. As you are training for the separation, keep everything else as similar as possible. Try to keep feeding, exercising, playing, and potty breaks at the same times.
    • Crate Train - A dog’s crate gives him a safe den to nap in and enables you to be sure he’s not getting into any trouble. Get your dog familiar with his crate again and have him spend a few hours a day in there even while you are home so that he gets comfortable not following you around.
    • Increase Exercise - Exercise helps decrease anxiety, especially when your dog may be spending more time napping now that you’re gone. Add in a longer walk or a game of fetch to your routine to burn off extra energy.
    • Consider a Local Dog Walker Early - During the day, your dog is likely to need its bathroom breaks and exercise, which is often harder when you're commuting to and from work all day. Professional dog walkers, like our team at FurBabies in Lake Mary and Sanford, FL, can help take your pet out when you're away and make sure they're living a healthier life. But in order to help your dog adjust to the routine, consider calling in a dog walker early. This will help them get used to the dog walking routine while they are still with you, and also give them that extra exercise they need to feel calmer.

    It is not unusual for people to experience some worry over leaving their dogs home alone as well. Make sure you are still taking time in the mornings or evenings to spend quality time with your dog with a walk, play session, or few minutes of training so you can keep your bond strong. 

    You should also look for any signs of extreme anxiety in your dog as you go through this training process and return to work. Peeing in the house, destruction, pacing, or continuous barking are signs that you might be moving too quickly and you need to spend a bit more time making the adjustment before you go back to work.

    If you're in the Lake Mary area and would like to learn more about our dog walking, pet sitting, and other valuable local services that can help your dog adjust back to life with you away, fill out our online form today or give us a call at 407-489-9418.