As I wrote last week, dogs all over the world have had the good fortune to be adopted in record numbers, even emptying many shelters, and relishing getting to spend all day long with their new “parents.”
As more and more people look to return to the workplace, these dogs may be in for a shock. Imagine spending all your time with your human from the day you move in and thinking this is how life works. Then, one day, your human starts to spend all their time somewhere else while you are home alone. That would be a tremendous shock!
The remedy is to prepare your dog for your return to work so he is comfortable with the transition. Last week I explained how to prepare your dog to spend time away from you.
Today is all about the flip side of that which is to create a routine (lifestyle) for your dog so he is happy both when you are there and when you aren’t.
I say this all the time but it bears repeating. Helping adopted dogs remain in their homes is my passion. I’ve spent much of my quarantine helping people – and their adopted dogs – adjust to life together. I’ve even created a free online course on Preparing Your Adopted Dog for Your Return to Work: what to do before and after you return to work so you and your dog have an easy and stress-free transition which you can take at Thinkific.
A blog post can’t cover everything a course can but today, and over the next couple of weeks, I’m sharing some of the processes and tips from the free course.
How to plan your return to work for your adopted dog
The key to making your transition back to work seamless for you and your dog is planning for it and beginning the process before you actually return to work.
There are two aspects to the plan you will create:
- Preparing your dog to be away from you
- Creating a routine for your dog
Dogs, not unlike small human children, like routine. Creating routines throughout the day that your dog can anticipate helps reduce canine anxiety and improve behavior. Your schedule doesn’t have to be rigid, in fact if it’s too rigid your dog will experience anxiety when it is inevitably deviated from. When creating a schedule or routine for your dog think in terms of sequence of activities versus actual times that events happen.
For example, rather than planning to feed your dog dinner at 8pm each night, think in terms of the entire evening and plan to feed your dog after (or before) his evening walk. Dogs do have a vague notion of time but focus more on which events precede/follow each other.
Consider your morning routine: in the hour or two you are up and about before leaving for work, what do you do? For example, I typically get up at 7am and begin work around 9am. In that two hour chunk of time I dress & have breakfast (or vice versa depending on how hungry I am), feed Jake breakfast, check my messages and take Jake for a walk. Jake and I always eat then walk which is what he expects and that’s the important sequence for him. When we get back from the walk he takes a nap and I start working.
Think about how much time you want to have in the morning before you leave for work (or start working at home) and what has to happen within that time frame. Then, keep the order in which you do things consistent as much as possible. If you are currently working from home, you can start doing this now.
Create a morning and evening routine for your dog. Consider the length of time your dog will be alone and decide if you can go home at lunch to check on him, hire a dog walker, put him in day care, etc. Different dogs will have different needs so think about what will be best for your pup.
Your routine doesn’t have to be exactly the same every day either. Your dog can get used to different things happening on different days so don’t feel you can’t sleep in on the weekends!
Next week we’ll look at what you need to do to keep your dog happy and safe after you’ve returned to work.
For even more information, checklists and live Q&A sessions register for the free course Preparing Your Adopted Dog for Your Return to Work: what to do before and after you return to work so you and your dog have an easy and stress-free transition at Thinkific.