Some of you have already adjusted back, but this blog may help you too! Dogs are sensitive animals and some are better at coping with change than others. Transitioning them back to “normal life,” where you’re out of the house consistently for work, can be hard on them. Trying to force them back into “normal” life just like that can leave them anxious and confused.
That’s why we at Doggy Brace wanted to share a few helpful tips for transitioning your dog (or cat!) into being okay with being left alone for hours while you work. Check out our tips below!
Practice Leaving Them Alone
No matter how hard it might be (for you and your pet), you have to start leaving them alone. You can start small. You don’t have to leave them alone for the full 8-9 hours from the very beginning.
Practice with short departures of an hour or two and gradually increase the duration. If your pet is anxious about it, you don’t have to leave the house. You can sit in another room or in the backyard (where they can’t see you) to test out how they’ll react. Every time you return, praise your pet for their good behavior and remind them that you will always come home to them.
Readjust the length of your absence, depending on your pet’s anxiety and behavior. This helps desensitize them to being alone, and it can take a few days! Remember, it’s a learning curve for them. Be patient, continuously monitor their behavior, and keep your expectations realistic.
If you’ve been home with your pet for a long time, chances are that you’ve both developed some bad habits. It happens! We’re guilty of it too.
If you got a puppy, chances are this is the first time that they’ll be left alone for long stretches. If this is the case, then our first tip can really help you! It’s all about repetition with puppies, positive reinforcement, and patience. So stock up on treats and make sure their favorite toy is always nearby. You got this!
For older dogs, we recommend doing the exact same thing! They’ll probably relearn how to be left alone a lot faster than puppies so it may not take nearly as long.
Eventually, your pet will feel better and get used to being alone for long periods of time. To help keep their pet entertained while they’re away, some pet owners leave the TV on or play some music to distract their pets. You can also engage them in dog-friendly puzzle toys and games that they can play by themselves.
A dog’s crate should be their safe space. They may have made their new safe space by you over the months you’ve been at home.
Crate-training might have taken a back seat during the pandemic. You might consider getting back to it. A wire crate, plastic kennel, or any gated space will serve the same purpose. Use reward to make their kennel space more appealing and start leaving your pet alone for short periods of time in the crate.
Practice A Morning Routine
This will help both you and your dog! Practice your morning routine a few days before you actually have to get back into it. Timing is everything — this isn’t something you can do at dinner, as your dog will associate dinner time with this routine. They are very good at following habits and routines!
So in the morning, get up when you normally would, go through your morning routine, and pretend to leave for work. Pick up and jingle your keys and actually leave the house for up to an hour so your dog knows what to expect.
Don’t Make Goodbyes And Hellos A Big Deal
As part of your routine, try to minimize the impact of hellos and goodbyes. You’ll both be obviously excited to see each other and sad to leave, but it’s important to set that boundary with your dog. You don’t want them to engage in destructive behaviors after a goodbye, nor get overly excited when you get home.
When you come and go from your home, do so with little interaction and a calm attitude. If you want to give your pup some love before you part for the day, do it about 10 minutes before you leave. When you return home, only acknowledge your pup when he or she has calmed down from your entrance.
A tired dog equals a happy dog, or at least one who doesn’t have the energy to react to big changes like you leaving. Wear out your dog with physical activity like a run, long walk or game of fetch before you leave the house.
Make sure that you have 20-30 minutes after this exercise to let your pup calm down before you leave. This way he or she doesn’t mix the excitement of having fun with you with their anxiety of you leaving!
Those are our tips. We hope they helped!