Updated: Mar 3
Returning to the office? Here's How to Fight Separation Anxiety and Dog Boredom
As convenient as working from home can be, it’s just not possible in many circumstances. One big perk of working from home for many people is being able to spend more time with their dogs and always being able to care for them. Whether you got a puppy during the start of your work-from-home days or if you’ve had a furry friend for years, they’ll all need readjusting. Namely, they’ll have to cope with you being gone for several hours at a time.
If you need some advice on how you can curb your dog’s separation anxiety as well as how to keep them entertained while you’re gone, look no further! We’ll go over some classic signs of separation anxiety and tips on how to mitigate it below:
Common Signs of Separation Anxiety:
Constant howling/barking when you’re gone
Destroying furniture, toys, and other household items
Going potty inside the house, despite being house trained
Refusing to eat/drink when they know you’re leaving or when you’re gone
Trying to escape your home when you’re gone
Does your dog have separation anxiety or are you worried that they will? Here’s how to handle it:
1. Make an association between something your dog loves and your dog being alone
For example, if your dog really loves peanut butter, you can offer some to them in a lick mat or in a toy just before you leave the house. When you combine this tip with gradually increasing the length of time you’re gone, your dog should be able to manage being alone just fine. However, using food may only work in mild cases – some dogs won’t eat at all in cases of more severe separation anxiety. If your dog isn’t super food motivated, you can use toys instead – find out what toys your dog values the most and try to only bring them out when you’re leaving so that they remain ‘high value’ to your dog.
2. Make Your Departures as Short as Possible
If you can help it, try to make your "leaving routine" as short as possible so that your dog doesn’t have time to realize that you’re leaving home. Talk to your pup in a calm voice when you leave and when you come home to avoid agitating them. Eventually, the goal is to let your dog know that you leaving home isn’t a big deal.
3. Give Your Dog Something That Smells Like You
Having an object that smells like you can go a long way towards keeping your dog calm when you’re away. Things like shirts, pillowcases or blankets you’ve used recently are ideal for this. Just make sure it’s something you don’t mind having a bit of dog hair or drool on!
4. Leave Your Dog at a Doggy Daycare
If leaving your dog on its own just isn’t an option, then leaving them at a daycare when you’re gone for extended periods of time is one good option. You’ll be able to relax knowing that your dog is being looked after. Plus, daycares have the added benefit of both socializing your dog and giving them some exercise.
Now that you’ve got your dog’s separation anxiety under control, how can you keep them entertained while you’re gone?
1. Hide Some Treats or Kibble Around the House
A little scavenger house around the house could be just the thing to keep your dog busy while you’re away. Just make sure that you hide food in places that your dog will be able to find – remember to check these places after work so that you won’t have to deal with treats going off later.
2. Hire a Dog Sitter to Pop In
You don’t necessarily need to hire someone to sit with your dog for the entire time you’re gone. Having a dog sitter or walker pop in for an hour or two can help your dog get a change of pace during the day. Plus, they’ll be able to get in some much-needed washroom breaks.
3. Keep the Blinds Open
For many dogs, looking out the window brings endless entertainment during the day – they’ll get to see squirrels, birds, other dogs and people passing by all day long. However, if your dog tends to bark a lot, this might not be the best option as you may get noise complaints.
4. Use an Interactive Pet Cam
These devices allow you to keep an eye on your pets as well as a number of other things, such as speaking to them, throwing treats, and taking pictures of your pets. Some models even have additional functions like alerting you if people are detected in your home or if your dog has been barking continuously for over a minute. While it’s not the same as being with your pet in person, it’s a great way to spend a little extra time with your pet during the day.