Many dogs are living their best lives — they’ve never had so much time at home with their people, but what happens when everyone heads back to work and other activities? How will our dogs feel and what can we do now to set them up for success?
Get advice to prep your dog for what comes next, and see our top tips for sheltering in place with your dog considering you’ll still be spending more time at home with your dog.
Transitioning Back to “Normal”
Shoshi Parks, Certified Professional Dog Trainer, who consulted with separation anxiety experts and veterinary behaviorist Dr. Karen Sueda provides excellent insight and advice in her recent article at Insider.com.
“Dogs thrive on consistency and predictability, as we all do, so anytime there’s an abrupt change, it can cause stress,” explains Dr. Sueda.
While some dogs will do fine with the transition, dogs who have suffered anxiety in the past are more prone to separation distress. Dogs new to a home – new puppies and just-adopted dogs with little experience home alone, may also require special care.
The good news: you can take steps now to prevent or reduce separation anxiety that may occur.
- Give your dog alone time each day and gradually increase the time leading up to when you head back to work.
- Get your dog familiar with interactive puzzle toys he or she can do independently. These will come in handy to keep your dog occupied when you’re away from home. See our favorite interactive toys in our Essential Guide for Keeping You and Your Dog Happy at Home or in our latest post: Our 50+ Best Tips for Keeping You and Your Dog Happy at Home
- Consider getting a home security camera to get a sense of how your dog reacts when you leave the house. The Wirecutter recommends the Wyze Cam v2, a solid camera priced at under $30.
- Know to get help when you need it, whether it’s a dog walker or friend to check on your dog while you’re at work, or your vet or a dog trainer.
Also, see our top tips for sheltering in place with your dog.
While some areas are beginning to ease restrictions and we’ll be venturing out to some version of not-quite-normal soon, we know we’ll continue to spend more quality time at home with our dogs.
Enjoy the outdoors with your dog! It’s something you can do as long as you’re social distancing, and you already know walks are beneficial for you and your dog’s mental and physical health.
Since you’ve likely got time to spare, make your walks all about your dog and let her use her dazzling sense of smell to sniff whatever she wants for as long as she wants,
Create a Stress-Free Environment
Research has proven dogs are wonderful for our mental health, especially in times like these, but veterinarians and dog owners report an uptick in anxious dogs, whether due to our stress, a change in routine, or other triggers. Here’s what to do:
Stick to a Routine
Dogs thrive on routine so keep your dog’s schedule as consistent as you can with regard to walks, playtime, and meals.
Practice Self Care
Studies show dogs are prone to pick up on their owners’ emotions, so carve out time to practice self-care. Take a temporary break from the news, connect with friends, or engage in a relaxing activity. Whatever you do, know your positive mood is good for your dog’s emotional wellbeing.
Give Your Dog Playtime + Mental Exercise
Just because you’re home with your dog all day, doesn’t mean he or she can skip dedicated playtime and outings. Just like us, dogs need regular mental stimulation like games, toys, and training. Take the time to engage with your dog – and see our list that follows for ideas.
Maintain Your Dog’s Care
Stay up-to-date with your dog’s flea, tick and heartworm meds, grooming, and whatever else you do to maintain your dog’s good health.
When it comes to grooming, our haircuts are on hiatus and so are our dog’s, but basic routine grooming is still essential. See home grooming tips on this page.
Watch the Treats!
With extra time at home, you and your dog both may be snacking more than usual. A consistent and healthy diet is key to keeping your dog happy so resist the urge to share treats throughout the day – and those pleading puppy dog eyes.
Treats should make up no more than 10% of your dog’s daily diet. Consider low-calorie treats and healthy treats like cut up pieces of apple. Learn all about dog treats at Woof Report.
Get excellent tips to maintain your dog’s grooming routine thanks to Chewy and Daryl Conner, a Master Pet Stylist in Maine. According to Conner, it’s essential to keep your dog’s coat brushed and combed to remove loose hair and prevent tangles.
She explains, “brushing from the skin to the tips of the hair, all over the body,” and adds long-haired dogs should also be combed after brushing.
Comer suggests dog owners step away from the clippers and leave actual haircutting to the pros, and she provides tips for maintenance trimming. Read the details and pro tips you can use at Chewy.com/home-grooming.
Give Your Dog Alone Time
As tempting as it is to spend every waking moment with your dog, you’ll want to make sure you give him a proper amount of alone time each day. Get out of the house for a walk on your own or work in a room away from your dog. This will set your dog up for success once you head back into the office or are otherwise away from home.
Download the 10-page PDF version of our guide, which includes all of these ideas and activities along with tips to keep your dog happy and healthy at home now — and when you return to work and other activities.
* Note links in the guide are active when the PDF is viewed on a computer or downloaded, but not when viewed on your smartphone.
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