As we prepare for our lives to return to “normal” our dogs may need some time to adjust. Many of them have grown accustomed to us being at home and mid-morning snuggles, lunch time potty breaks and afternoon walks have become the norm. They have grown accustomed to nearly 24-hour access to their humans. Some young puppies have probably never been alone for extended periods of time. Small changes now can set them up for future success with a new routine.
Practice a leaving routine.
Dress up as though you are going to work (yes, your dog will notice that you’re not in sweat pants and are wearing a tie or have put on perfume)! Put on your shoes, pick up your car keys, prepare a travel mug of coffee and then head to your home office. This will allow the dog to observe and get comfortable with your new routine, without the added stress of you actually leaving the house. If your dog will be crated while you are away, practice crate time in short sessions. Give the dog a puzzle toy or stuffed Kong for entertainment. Begin by crating the dog where it can see you, and then move the crate out of sight as your dog gets more comfortable.
Leave the house for short periods of time.
Start going on short 10-15 minute outings. Take a brief walk without the dog, run to Starbucks, gas up the car and then come back home. Giving the dog a puzzle toy or stuffed Kong just before you leave will help to distract the dog, and make your absence more tolerable. When you return home, remain calm and quiet. No matter how excited your dog is to see you, don’t make a big production out of coming home by talking excitedly or petting the dog vigorously. Calmly take the dog outside and give them a chance to relieve themselves. When the dog is calm and collected, then you can give them praise and attention.
Set your dog up for success.
Ensuring that your dog’s physical needs are met can go a long way in helping them adjust to your absence. Consider taking them for a walk or having a play session before you plan to leave the house. This way, they will happily be ready for naptime just in time for your departure.