The past year has been all about new routines and staying safe. Many of us adopted new pets, which was perfect when we had the flexibility of working (and schooling) from home. But now that some of us are returning to the office, this shift can be confusing and stressful for our pets. Unfortunately, it’s hard for our pets to understand why we won’t be home all day to hang out, take walks, and, of course, play fetch.
Luckily, there are ways to help our pets adjust to this new routine. Here are our top 10 ways to help get your pet ready for your return to work.
Back to the Office Tips for Dogs
- Start this new schedule prior to returning to work, which means getting your walks and feeding times closer to how they will be when you return to the office. Start to shift feeding times maybe a bit earlier in the morning, and a bit later in the evening depending on when you typically go and return from work.
- Get your mental enrichment games out – or invest in a few. The night before, load your Kong with some peanut butter and freeze it overnight. Then, use it as a reward before you leave for your dog to stay occupied. We, of course, recommend loading the iDig with toys and treats in the morning when you’re getting ready. The morning is a great time to do a quick 10-minute training session before you leave. These will help your dog relax and tire them out mentally, so they’re less stressed while you are gone.
- Before your start working in the office, practice putting on your shoes, grabbing your keys, and wallet/purse and walk around the house to help desensitize these items. It may seem silly at first, but it works. Your dog associates these behaviors with your leaving and it can create a lot of anxiety. So, the more you can make these behaviors “normal” occurrences before your actual exit, the better.
- Set up a pet camera to check how your pet is doing. Who doesn’t love to check in and make sure everything’s ok with your pup?! Is your pet showing signs of stress or anxiety? Check out our anxiety blog post for tips.
- Before your official return to the office, practice leaving for short durations, and don’t make a big deal when you leave home. Run an errand or two, go pick up groceries, etc. This will help your pup get used to you not being around 24/7.
- Make sure your pup is getting enough exercise. Commuting to work and school may mean you have less time to walk or jog with your pup. Schedule a game of iFetch in the morning as a quick way to let them work out some energy before you leave. Any opportunity for them to get the physical (and mental) exercise they need helps reduce stress.
- Look into a hiring a dogwalker or pet sitter. If your dog is especially anxious or needs a lot of physical exercise, hire a pet sitter to come by during the day to walk your dog and give them a crate break. You can, of course, teach them how to have an iFetch session with your dog too! Or have them load up the iDig for a little while before they leave.
- If your dog normally spent their time in a crate or behind a pet gate while you were away at work, try having them take their naps there again, to get used to not being glued to your side all day.
- Let your neighbor know what’s going on. Whether you live in an apartment, condo, or house, inform your neighbor that you’re returning to work. Ask them to let you know if your pet is barking more or excessively. This can help you gauge if your pet is having trouble adjusting.
- If you have a high energy dog or energetic puppy, it may be time to consider doggy day care. Day care allows your dog to socialize and interact with other dogs, providing mental and physical activities that will leave your dog happy and tired—while also giving you peace of mind.
Of course, if your dog is extremely stressed and not adjusting to your absence over the next few weeks, we recommend working with a local positive reinforcement dog trainer to help your pup learn to relax while you’re gone. You can also talk to your veterinarian. Sometimes, a prescription medication or over-the-counter CBD oil can help for especially anxious dogs.
Best of luck! We hope your transition back to the office is stress-free for both you and your dog(s). Just remember that when you return home, it will be a joyful reunion for both of you!