In the spring of 2020, we all felt the growing pains of transitioning to a new schedule, new working conditions, and new routines as many of us quarantined and began working primarily from home. Disruptions to the daily routine can be as much a stressor for your dog as it is for you, and chances are there was a substantial adjustment period for them too. Some online forums joked that our pets were just as irritable at our newly constant presence in the house as we were at the time.
As we return to our regular routines and the in-person workday once again, we and our pets both face another transition period. For dogs, this can mean anxiety, including the potential for new separation anxiety. It might also mean less physical activity, fewer potty breaks, and more extended periods of alone time.
Maintaining a regular schedule and pet care routine is important for your dog’s mental and physical health, and there are many health benefits to walking your dog regularly. (link) We’ll tell you why regular walks are so important, and how to help your furry friend adjust to in-person workdays as you do the same.
The Life of a Lonely Dog
Changes to the daily routine can be stressful for dogs, particularly when those changes happen suddenly (from your dog’s perspective), or when those changes mean your dog will be isolated or alone for much of the day. Dogs see themselves as part of your home’s social hierarchy, and require regular, positive interaction with you in order to feel safe and stable.
Dogs with separation anxiety suffer mental health issues that can lead to physical health issues if left untreated. Separation anxiety is common with drastic changes in your dog’s normal routine. In the same way that your dog needed time to adjust to you working from home, they’ll also need time to adjust to your absence.
Signs of separation anxiety can include destructive behaviors, like chewing household items, scratching, or gnawing at their paws. They can also include potentially dangerous behaviors like running away and potential aggression, depending on circumstances.
Why Crating Your Dog Isn’t a Solution
Dogs require plenty of exercise and physical activity in order to stay physically and mentally healthy. Physical activity includes movement beyond the scope of exercise, like the ability to move freely throughout the home. A crated dog is not only isolated, it is being denied its very basic physical needs.
Peta explains that crated dogs can become depressed, withdrawn, aggressive, hyperactive, and even develop eating disorders as a result of social isolation and lack of activity.
A good pet care program should include both exercise and interaction for your pet. If you’re unable to interact with your dog on your lunch break, or provide a 10-minute walk during other break periods, it is better to hire a professional service than to leave your dog in a crate throughout the work day.
Professional pet care services will know how to help your dog if they exhibit destructive or anxious behaviors when not crated.
Benefits of Regular Walks
A 30-minute walk can not only provide your dog the mental health resilience to adjust to new periods of isolation, but can benefit their physical health as well. Steady state walks of this length can help your dog build strength in their heart and lungs, and maintain a healthy weight. Like humans, healthy weight translates to a multitude of other health benefits for your dog.
Regular exercise helps ensure health and longevity for your furry friend over time. It is crucial for mitigating anxious behaviors like whining, panting , drooling, pacing and running away running away. Midday workouts for your little buddy can help build physical health, and help encourage behavioral adaptations as well.
If you’re unable to provide the regular walks that your dog needs as you go back to work, fret not. A professional walking service can be just what your dog needs while you’re away. Professional dog walking services understand the importance of exercise and the outdoors for your dog, and will help them stay happy and healthy as their routines change.
Tips As You Return To Work
As you head back to the office, try to create a routine that your dog can predict and adjust to. Sometimes, leaving your dog with a long-lasting treat long-lasting treat in the mornings will distract them for long enough that they get comfortable home alone. Lunch break or midday break
Drop-in visits such as on your lunch break or midday break are great for your dog, as long as they’re part of a routine and your dog isn’t suffering from severe separation anxiety. If you’re the type to enjoy a good lunch-hour workout, consider sharing a run with your four-legged friend if it’s feasible.
Be sure to give your dog plenty of exercise when you are home, as they’re likely adjusting to less activity without you around throughout the day. An extra 20-minute walk in the morning before you leave is a great way to calm your pet and make up for some of the physical activity loss throughout the workday.
If a security camera is within your budget, check in with your pet throughout the day. Don’t suddenly leave your pet home alone for an entire workday and expect that they’ll be well adjusted and well behaved.
When To Call A Pet Sitter
If a security camera and regular lunch break check-ins with your pet are impossible, a doggie day care program might be in order. If your dog isn’t sociable with other dogs or is uncomfortable outside of their routine/home, a pet sitter might be your best bet.
Using a pet sitter as part of your dog’s care program can mitigate the mental and physical health risks of keeping your dog home alone or crated all day. Pet sitters will make sure your little buddy has regular potty breaks, meals at the ideal time of day, and a predictable routine to alleviate anxiety.
Pet sitters are the perfect addition to your pet care routine when you can’t be present for your dog, or when your dog has separation anxiety. Pet sitters and dog walkers dog walkers also help to socialize your dog, and allow them to remain informed about neighborhood activities in dog-world.
When is the best time of day for my dog to have a walk?
While different dog breeds may require different lengths and frequency of walks, morning walks should be the longest walk of the day, at about 30 to 60 minutes. It is very important for your dog’s energy balance and mental health that regardless of the time of day, their walks are regular and predictable.
What’s the best way for me to get out of the house in the morning, now that I’m leaving my pet?
The long-lasting treat trick will help your dog stay distracted for some time, but don’t otherwise make a big deal out of leaving or returning home. Your dog is reading your social cues and will be anxious if you’re anxious or guilty about leaving. The most important technique is a regular routine.
Is there any time I should avoid walking my dog?
Avoid walking your dog for extended periods of time during very hot or humid days, or during thunderstorms if they startle your pet. You should also avoid walking immediately after a big meal, and instead either wait 30 minutes or more, or walk your furry friend before meal time.