Helping your puppy adjust to your return to the office
Since the Government’s latest announcement this week, there has been a lot of talk around when we will all be going back to the office. Some of us have enjoyed working from home more than others, but we know for definite who has enjoyed it the most; our dogs!
Where your dog may have had to entertain itself for up to 8-9 hours a day before Covid hit the UK, they could now be used to constant company which could cause upset when left alone. And for those of us who gave puppies a forever home over the last year, our new pups will have never experienced anything different. We’ve spoken to some local experts to give you the best tips on preparing your dog for your return to the office.
Tips from Tremain Vets, Witney,
“We would recommend slowly accustoming puppies to being left on their own (e.g. start by leaving them for 10 minutes then increasing by 5 minutes over the course of a few weeks). The use of Pheromone therapies such as “Adaptil” or Pet remedy can be useful to help them feel at ease. Crates and dens are useful with a blanket that has your scent on, and leaving the radio on can cover up outside noise that could cause anxiety. You can also use a camera to monitor your dog while you’re not there for peace of mind.”
Tips from Danni’s Diddy Dogs, West Oxfordshire,
“Dogs, much like children, need routine. A sudden change could be stressful and cause anxiety, so remember to make changes gradually. Their feeding times, playtime and walks will all need to be considered and slowly adapted to fit your back-to-work schedule. You'll probably want to start now so that by the time you're back at work, your dog will be comfortable in their new routine and you'll feel confident leaving them.
Start by reducing the amount of attention and interaction you may be giving your dog during the times that you would normally be at work. Allow them time during your normal working hours to spend time resting in their bed or a space of their own away from you. Instead, reserve more of your time and attention for the evening or times when you would usually be free to spend time with your dog outside of work hours. Providing them with enrichment toys or puzzle toys such as lickimats and Kongs is a fun way to take your dog's focus away from you and keep them occupied. These enrichment toys also have a calming effect which is perfect for alleviating any stress or anxiety.
Getting your dog used to you not being in the house is also something that you can work on now. Start popping out for very short spells, and gradually build up the amount of time you're out the house. Even if you just pop outside for 10 minutes! You can also start to get your dog familiarised with the sound of car keys, you putting on your shoes, and getting your bag ready. Just remember to always leave and return with a calm energy. Don't make a big fuss when coming and going. No elaborate displays of affection (as hard and as unnatural as that may be!). And don't forget, when you come home, remember to praise them and give them fuss when they are calm.
As a general rule, dogs shouldn't be left on their own for more than 4 hours at a time, and young puppies should only be left for a maximum of 2 hours. With many of us at work for 8-9 hours a day, it's worth considering day care options such as hiring the help of a local dog sitter or dog walker if you're unable to get back to see your dog during your working day.”
Tips from Jill Timms, Witney,
“As a Trainer and Behaviourist, I believe prevention is better than cure. Even in lockdown life, puppy training should include some ‘home alone’ experience to prepare and build up self-confidence in the pup. Putting your pup in a safe place with a filled Kong for just 10-15 minutes and gradually building up the time. Most importantly, be cool and natural when you return as this will help your puppy to know it is ok to be alone, and no big deal.
Preparing the puppy for being home is good dog ownership and is as important as crate training, toileting, loose lead walking and recall.”
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