Preparing your dog for your return to work

May 13, 2020 3 min read

Advice to prepare you dog for your return to work post covid-19 lock-down

When lock-down began in the UK all our dogs looked at us with a bemused expression, clearly asking, “why were the humans home? Why were the humans not going anywhere? Like anywhere at all?”

When the humans announced 'walkies'

Then there was the fun of walkies. Depending on how many humans in the household depended on how many times a day the word ‘walkies’ got announced.
Mid-May saw the 50-day mark of lock-down coinciding with England beginning to relax the lock-down rules and entering into a new phase. Specific areas of 'Phase 2', that affect many homes, is the return to work and unlimited exercise along with being allowed to meet one person for a social distance walk.

Easing of lock-down in England

These three areas will have our dogs expression potentially turning from bemused to anxious. At the very least, they’ve had us to themselves for the past seven weeks. Following us from room to room, curling up in a corner whilst you’re in Zoom meeting and generally enjoying (we hope) our company.

It’s important to look back at the past 7 weeks for what it was and step away from the rose-tinted glasses. Whilst we are all going through this together it is apparent that everyone has had different experiences during lock-down and thereafter. Our dogs may have felt our stress at having to home-school, cowered at our frustration with the dodgy wifi and may have preferred to snooze than be dragged out for the third, walk of the day by another member of the household yet to take up their allotted hour of air.

Dog having some time alone during lock-down to help the return to work phase

Prepare your dog for your absence

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, yet a sudden absence may make your dog’s heart to plummet. Think about planning for your return to work and begin to venture out of the house for longer periods. Here are our tips to help your dog adjust to your absence.

Top tips to leaving your dog post lock-down

  1. Tentative steps. Walk your dog then let them have some alone time in the house. As we are now allowed unlimited exercise you can take your dog out for a lovely walk then go back home. Settle them in the house and pop back out again. Leave the radio on, make sure they have fresh clean water and go out for a short period of time.
  2. Extra time. Build up the amount of time you are leaving your dog for. Increase the amount each time you leave them and keep leaving them home regularly. If you dog is used to being left at home for a few hours each day build up to this. Yes, it can be difficult to be out of the house for the sake of it. Use the time for your essential shop. If it’s a sunny day you could take book and find a spot to read close to home. Your dog does not know how far you’ve gone, but it is important they start to have some time on their own.
  3. It’s all about me! If your dog has had constant attention from the household, introduce some attention-free time. Whilst we know our worlds revolve our dogs, it can create a unwanted attention cycle. Give them alone time even when you are in the house. Choose a different room than they are in or ignore them if they come to find you. 
  4. Stay strong. Along with picking up on your wifi frustration, your dog will pick up any anxiety you have about leaving them. Stay focused, be relaxed and keep it NORMAL. Whatever and however you left the house pre lock-down then use that same routine. Same areas of the house accessible and off limits, same snack before you left, same quick wee in the garden (your dog, not you!).
  5. Dog sense. Putting on your coat and picking up your keys are habits your dog will associate with you leaving the house. Sometimes they’ll be coming with you on the adventure and on other occasions they’ll be left to hold the forte. Dogs do not have the same perception of time as their human companions. The concept of ‘how long it has been since their human has been working from home’ does not exist to your dog. What does exist is their routine and trying to introduce something that resembles their pre lock-down routine as smoothly and gradually as possible. 

Hopefully the transition to phase 2 will be a smooth one for everyone. The most important part to remember is to trust your instincts and do what feels right for your dog and yourself.

Stay safe everyone and look after each other.