As the pandemic slowly starts to ebb and the world reopens its doors, more of the workforce is returning to the office. Indeed, after more than a year and a half of living room workstations, Zoom board meetings, and treating our dogs like coworkers, millions of Americans are adjusting to the transition of working in a traditional corporate setting once again.
But no matter how taxing this shift can be on us, it’s going to be just as stressful for many of our dogs.
Dogs are creatures of habit and don’t like change; they like things to be the same every day,” says Dr. Ann Hohenhaus of New York City’s Animal Medical Center. With your return to the office, your dog is going to be uncomfortable because his routine has changed, and now he doesn’t know what to expect,”
To prepare your pooch for his new normal, here are some tips to get him ready for the transition.
Prepare Your Dog
Well before you hit the highway to only sit in rush-hour traffic, make sure your dog is prepared for your absence.
Start by leaving your pup alone for short periods of time. Do everything you would do when you leave for work — make your lunch, put your coat and shoes on, grab your keys, and walk out the door. Don’t make a big fuss out of it — no sad goodbyes, or baby talking — as this can cause your dog to feel anxious. Same goes for when you return — remain calm and relaxed.
If your dog normally spent his time in a crate or specific room of the house, start getting him accustomed to that space again.
“Dogs like crates because it’s their safe space. Try putting your dog in the crate for 10 to 15 minutes, go out, come back, and let the dog out. This lets him know that you’re always going to come back,” says Dr. Hohenhaus. “If you’re still working from home, put the dog in the crate or the spare room and take him out periodically for walks and meals. This gets him used to being in the crate again.”
Keep Your Dog Engaged
Challenging, interactive toys will encourage independent playtime and keep boredom at bay.
“Puzzle feeders and Kongs with frozen food are both great options,” says Dr. Hohenhaus. “These items not only engage dogs but also act as a positive reinforcement tool because the dog gets food. It teaches him to associate your leaving with getting a fun toy filled with treats.”
For dogs that are used to a midday meal, timed feeders are a great option. If you live in a multi-pet household, consider getting a microchip feeder. These feeders only open for a designated dog based on their unique microchip. There are a number of them in the marketplace, including Sure Petcare. Easy to clean and set up, this feeder is compatible with nine, 10, and 15-digit microchips. This smart feeder opens when it detects the assigned microchip approaching and automatically closes when the dog moves away.
For dogs that need a little snack during the day, consider purchasing a treat feeder. You can either get a feeder that you can open remotely using your smartphone or opt for one that opens when your dog presses it with his paws. A few popular ones include, WOpet and the Furbo Dog Cam Treat Feeder.
Consider Natural Supplements
There are several natural remedies that you can use to alleviate an anxious dog, including calming pheromones, which use ingredients to help relax pets. You can use a calming pheromone diffuser, like ADAPTIL Calm Diffuser and the ThunderEase Diffuser, or spritz a couple of drops of the pheromones on a bandana and secure it around your dog’s neck.
“Calming pheromones mimic the comforting pheromones mama dogs exude when the puppies are still nursing,” says Dr. Hohenhaus. “Some dogs also respond well to lavender.”
Nutraceuticals are also effective for keeping dogs calm. These nutritional products also have physiological benefits. Opt for nutraceutical supplements that contain science-backed ingredients, like lemon balm, l-theanine, and probiotics for calming benefits.
Set Your Dog Up for Success
When your gone, make your dog as comfortable as possible. Calming music or white noise can also soothe stressed-out pets. Classical, reggae, and soft rock music may relax your pup, while streaming services such as Relax My Dog and DogTV can make a dog feel like they’re not alone.
Also, make sure your dog has access to fresh, clean water, that your space is temperature-controlled, and if possible, exercise your pet before you leave, so your dog is relaxed and won’t harm your home. Lastly,, pick up anything that you don’t want to be destroyed or is dangerous for your dog to chew on.
Have a Plan for Long Days
Long days at the office can be trying for your dog. Consider having a plan in place to socialize and exercise your dog while you are gone. Some ideas include:
- Hiring a dog walker
- Enrolling your pooch in a doggy daycare
- Teaming up with other pet parents in your neighborhood to look after each other’s dogs
- Asking a trusted friend or relative to drop by to let your dog out and spend time with him.
You can also use a webcam to keep tabs on your pet when you’re away. However, Dr. Hohenhaus recommends not interacting with your dog throughout the day via the webcam, as this can confuse him.
By getting him accustomed to your absence, supplying him with an abundance of fun toys and treats, and using natural calming remedies, your dog will soon successfully adjust to his new post-pandemic normal.