For many of us, the silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic and remote work arrangement has been the ability to spend more time with our loved ones. As a pet parent, you know this to be especially true. You’ve gotten used to the impromptu play-dates and abundant opportunities to cuddle with your fur baby during the day, so the thought of leaving your pup while at work seems near impossible.
Perhaps you’re wondering, do dogs get lonely? You’re a loving and responsible pet parent, and can’t imagine causing your dog to suffer emotionally. Like humans, dogs are creatures of habit, which means when it comes to returning to the office, the initial transition could be rough, but with the right training regime, both you and your pup will adapt to a new normal in no time. It may also help to know that it’s highly likely you’re much more anxious about leaving your pup than they are.
However, you could have good reason to worry about leaving your dog while you’re at work as a survey by Cision PR Newswire shows that over a third of pet owners value the companionship their pets provide during the workday. And while there’s little doubt for pet parents that their fur babies help reduce stress, C-suite executives have actually seen a 42% increase in productivity for allowing employees to bring their pets with them as they return to work.
That said, it’s worth checking with your employer to see if they’ve implemented a post-pandemic pet policy or would be willing to do so in the name of employee engagement, retention, and productivity. After all, the data does suggest that dogs at work are good for business. But even if you have a fully remote position, the reality is that you will have to leave your pup at some point in their life, and it’s wise to start building healthy habits now.
Keep reading for our top tips for what to do with your dog while at work!
Leaving your dog home alone for the first time might be a challenge, but with proper training and consistency, both you and your pup can adjust to a routine quickly. It’s wise to start slow, so be sure to continue reading for our top recommendations on leaving your dog in a crate while at work.
At first blush, crate and kennel training can seem inhumane, but it’s actually very comforting if done correctly as it’s a natural instinct for dogs to seek smaller spaces when they feel overwhelmed. The key is to make it a pleasurable experience and be sure to never use it as a form of punishment. As a pet parent, you want to help your fur baby acclimate to their crate at their own pace, using treats and toys to incentivize them.
The process could take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks depending on a multitude of factors like your dog’s breed and past experiences, so it’s important to practice patience if it takes longer than expected. Focus on providing a positive experience each time you crate train your dog, rather than forcing the issue and causing a negative association. Over time, you can extend the crating period and move on to a kennel, which provides a larger and more permanent, but still confined area for your pup.
If you have a puppy or a dog with no crate or kennel experience, you need to start from square one. Be sure to make the crate comfortable by placing a dog bed or blanket on the floor and prop the door open (or remove it entirely) to make it inviting. Encourage your pup to explore the new territory by tossing toys or treats into the crate. After they’re comfortable being in the crate, you can start to introduce meals into the mix.
Feeding them in the crate will develop an even stronger positive association with the process, and you can begin to close the door behind them while they eat. At first, you’ll want to open the door when they’ve finished eating, then gradually increase the amount of time that you leave the door closed after meals. When your pup can stay in the crate comfortably and without whining for about 10 minutes, it’s recommended to start training them without meals and for longer periods of time.
The goal here is to be out of sight and out of mind while your pup is in their crate so you can get them accustomed to you being “gone.” Use a treat or toy to incentivize your dog to enter the crate initially and increase the length of time until you reach 30 minutes. Remember to go at the pace your pup requires and keep the experience fun and rewarding.
The next step is to actually leave your pup, gradually increasing the time they spend alone every time you’re gone. While it’s natural to greet your pup excitedly when you get home, it can actually increase their anxiety as they await your return so it’s important to stay even-keeled upon departure and arrival.
Other ideas for where to keep dogs during the day include delegating a dog-friendly room in your house and to create a safe space for them while you’re away at work. We recommend using baby gates to section off an area in your home where your pup can roam. If you’re house training your dog, we highly suggest using a room with tile or laminate flooring in case accidents occur. For puppies and smaller breeds, it’s worth considering playpens as a way to comfortably crate train your furry bff.
If you have the space, setting up a kennel in the backyard is one of your best options as it gives them the space to run and use the bathroom freely. Be sure to give them plenty of toys to keep your dog entertained while at work, and you might even want to put their crate in the kennel to give them a safe space to nap and get out of the elements.
While leaving your dog in the backyard while at work is a great choice, it might not be realistic for your specific situation. So if you’ve already tried crate and kennel training and your fur baby still has a hard time being alone, we suggest hiring a dog walker, pet sitter, or doggie daycare service.
As a pet parent, there’s no doubt that you’ve become accustomed to you and your dogs working from home. And if you became a new pet owner during the pandemic, you might never have had to leave your fur baby for an extended period of time, so you probably have a lot of questions like what to do with a puppy while at work.
For puppies under six months of age, you want to be sure not to leave them in a crate without bathroom access for longer than four hours, as they’re unable to control their bladders and bowels for longer than that length of time This holds true for house training adult dogs as well, but you can extend that time period to cover a full workday with the right training regime and a consistent routine.
Perhaps you’re wondering, is it against the law to leave a dog home alone for an extended period of time? The answer is no, but within reason as it could be considered negligence and animal cruelty in extreme cases. The priority here is to keep your pup comfortable, happy, and healthy in the short-term and over the long-run. Take note of any behavior changes or irregularities as they could be a sign that your pup is struggling to make the adjustment to being home alone.
It’s natural for your mind to race as you try to figure out what to do with your dog while at work, and you can start to go down a rabbit hole of philosophical questions like: “What do dogs think about all day?” or “How long is an hour for dogs?” To help direct your thinking, we’ve provided our top tips for leaving your pup at home in the list below!
Having a dog and working 9 to 5 can be tough, but it doesn’t have to be an anxiety-provoking experience for either of you. With your care, attention, and consistent training, you and your pup will adapt to the new normal in no time!
Remember to practice patience throughout the crate training process and proceed at a speed that’s right for your pup. If you do, you’ll reap the rewards while avoiding the negative side effects of leaving your dog alone all day. To help in your success, we suggest implementing our last three tips listed below.
For more helpful tips on caring for your fur baby, check out our blog, Ruff Draft.