Cloud K9 is where your relaxed dog’s brain rests while you’re home 24/7. Whether you’re injured, vacationing, laid-off, taking time off, or in Quarantine 2020, you need to consider what happens when you go back to work.
What does that mean for your pooch?
Dogs are no different than we are. They are creatures of routine and habit. When we return to work, we can expect behavioral changes linked to separation anxiety if the proper changes leading up to your return aren’t met. It’s never what your dog wants to see, but they can be comfortable with the idea of being alone rather than stressed.
Some signs of separation anxiety include, but are not limited to destructive tendencies, attempts to escape, barking/howling, or difficulty breathing and heavy panting. Conversely, this can be managed if taken care of properly. As owners, we have to understand that dogs may display this behavior, and this is nothing personal towards you.
What to do while at home.
- You want to create a “Safe Place” for your dog where they have a sense of comfort and security when they are alone. This can be a crate, room, or comfy bed; whatever you think your dog would like best. To achieve this sense of comfort, have them lay in the safe place while you’re watching TV or making dinner. Reward them for lying there. The more you exercise/repeat this safe place exercise, the better they will feel when you are not with them.
- Use your typical leaving-the-house routines and pair them with an in-home chore. Dilute the trigger signals that your dog associates with your departures. In return, your dog is less likely to feel anxious. Pick up your keys and cook dinner. Put on your shoes and fold the laundry. Exit your front door and enter through the back.
- Give your dog a job while you’re not home. Incorporate independence/confidence training and brain games, i.e., durable & resistant chewing & stuffed toys. Play “hide-and-seek” with your dog at home with treats, and incorporate it into something you do before you leave the house. See our DOGORA tutorial “Treasure Hunt” on our Facebook Page @dogora.ca.
- The best case scenario is your dog is sleeping a portion of the time you are away from home. Don’t rush your morning Potty time. Give yourself at least 15-20 minutes of extra time. Play some tug of war, fetch and ball catch in your backyard or local park to tire them out before leaving them alone.
- If you know you are returning to work, correct your dog’s schedule as soon as possible if it has been changed. No one wants their dog feeling hungry or wanting a walk/exercise while they’re not home. Try and practise feeding, brushing/grooming, and active time around your future work schedule.
- Other good ways to keep your dog engaged while you are not home is to allow them to look out of the window if they feel the urge. For smaller dogs, placing a couch beside a window is perfect. If not, you can create a little sitting perch for your dog. This should be something you slowly introduce because, with some dogs, it can cause increased anxiety and stress.
- Play soothing music for your dog. Search video platforms for dog-relaxing audio files.
- Last, reach out to your local veterinarian with any questions you have. They are always willing to help.
Most pets do not like abrupt changes, so make going back to work easy for yours. A good way to begin is to do some of your smaller errands and take short walks around your block without your dog.
With the combination of quality bonding time with your dog, exercising the use of their safe place, frequently exposing them to triggers/cues of your leaving, and following the points above, you can help increase your dog’s ability to also enjoy her quiet time while you’re busy working.
Nicholas Mozas is Founder and CEO of DOGORA. He is a graduate of the University of Guelph in Biological Science and holds an M.Sc. in Neutragenomics. Nicholas managed an Animal Hospital after graduation, gaining a better understanding of pets’ and owners’ needs. Find out more at www.dogora.ca.