For over a year, many professionals have been accustomed to working from home and being right next to their beloved four-legged friend. Many pet parents are facing the same issue accompanies head back into the office. Your dog’s health and happiness is extremely important as you transition from your home to the office.
When considering your dog’s health and happiness, there are several factors to think about physical, mental, and environmental as you embark on leaving your home for extended periods of time. In this article we will make several suggestions to help ensure a balanced health and happiness in your absence.
Physical Companionship for Your Dog as You Work Outside of the Home
It’s no secret that as you head back into the office, the number one thing your dog will miss physical companionship. The human-dog bond is one of the strongest and most faithful that grows over time. Our dogs help us relax, lower our blood pressure, and keep us active, but this is only the start! On the flip side, dogs thrive through physical companionship with their loving owner. Without that physical companionship piece, dogs can feel stressed, lonely, and depressed.
There are two things we must address: your mental and physical health and your dog’s physical and mental health when you transition back to work and lack that physical companionship you once had 24/7.
Just because you are not at home all day anymore does not mean that bond between you and your dog will disappear.
Ensuring Your Dog Gets Enough Physical Activity
Not being able to walk your dog whenever will be something your dog may not be used to. We all know how important exercise is for your dog so establishing a new physical regimen is key. Taking a nice morning walk or letting your dog play in the backyard will allow you and your dog to get some fresh air before the workday and spend some quality time together. You may not have the time to go for a morning walk so before heading off to work, squeeze in 5 to 10 minutes to play with your dog. This can tire your dog out a bit so he or she can rest while you are gone. Walking is a great way to get you and your dog some exercise. If you are up for it, pick up the pace and go for a run. You will feel good after and so will your dog. Another way to get them to exercise is to head to the local dog park. Play fetch or tug-of-war and socialize your dog with other animals. Ensuring your dog gets at least 30 minutes of exercise a day is optimal for a healthy lifestyle.
Dogs love structure and help your furry friend cope with stress easier. This comes into play with the time you feed your dog to the time you walk your dog every day.
Maintaining a Healthy Diet for Your Dog
Let’s talk about your dog’s diet. You may have had the time to prepare some fresh meals for your dog, but now that period of preparation time is limited or gone now that you are headed back to the office. Well, there are many things to consider when choosing a dog food that is right for your dog. Firstly, ensure you are choosing a dog food that has fresh fruits and vegetables. Ingredients like sweet potato, blueberries, and pumpkin seeds are great for your dog’s health. For example, sweet potato reduces inflammation in the body, possesses Vitamin A which promotes healthy skin and nails, a shiny coat and blindness prevention. If you do not know what ingredients are in the dog food you are selecting, it is most likely not the best choice for your dog.
Most dog foods on store shelves have the minimum daily requirements needed for your dog’s diet. The ingredients you choose should always have high-quality proteins like chicken or turkey. By-products, meat substitutes, fillers, and artificial ingredients are red flags. Keeping track of your dog’s weight, age, and activity level are important when deciding how much food to give to your dog. The size of your dog and breed will determine what food your dog should be eating to live a healthy life. If you are curious to find out what an optimal meal plan is for your dog, please visit the Drooly Dog Food meal plan calculator to determine what your dog’s diet should look like.
As previously mentioned, toys with dog treats are great to entertain your dog, but should not be overused. Too many treats can lead to obesity and an unhealthy diet for your dog. Be careful you are not overdoing the treats.
A fresh, clean bowl of water is great for your dog. A constant supply of clear water is necessary for promoting a healthy lifestyle for your dog.
Preparing Your Dog for Your New Schedule
Mental health is an important, widely discussed topic in today’s world, but it is often forgotten that dogs get anxious just like humans. If your dog has separation anxiety or feels lonely without your company, there are multiple ways to combat this and ease the stress on your dog, but first, let’s talk about separation anxiety.
There are many symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs. Does your dog become distressed as soon as you leave? Does he or she get an increased heart rate or troubled breathing? The physiological signs may arise and be a telling sign that your dog experiences separation anxiety. Many times, a dog may try to follow you as you leave, scratch at the door, jump at the windowsill to watch you leave, bark to try to get you to come back, or begint to nervously chew on house items. After a period of time, your dog will settle down and may search for your scent around the house. Some dogs even local an item of yours and curl up to form a protective barrier to feel secure or will urinate and defecate in the house.
Now, let’s talk about how to keep your dog from getting these intense feelings of separation anxiety as you head back to the office. That change in schedule can be an immediate trigger for separation anxiety since your dog is used to having you at home 24/7. A great way to begin preparing your dog for your absence is to begin doing out-of-sight activities. Start with very short periods of time of going into another room. For example, you can go into your bedroom, close the door for 1-2 minutes then return to your dog. As your dog becomes more and more comfortable with this time frame, slowly increase the time you’re out of your dog’s sight. Reward your dog for his or her good behavior with a food-stuffed toy. This food-stuffed toy can also be used as a safety item for your dog when you are gone.
Always remember to have a calm and quiet demeanor when interacting with your dog when coming and going. This will naturally lower your dog’s anxiety and make it less noticeable as you exit the home. Conditioning your dog may take weeks for you to start seeing results. The first 40 minutes are pivotal for your dog’s anxiety and building him or her up to that mark will take time. As your dog begins to handle extended periods of time alone, your four-legged friend will be able to handle eight hour days without you.
If it is possible, arrange for a friend, family member, or dog sitter to check on your dog during the work day. Lastly, if your dog is not adjusting well after trying natural ways to decrease stress and anxiety, consult a veterinarian.
Do Not Feel Guilty
To sum this all up, leaving your dog alone is hard and no one wants to do it, but it is necessary for those who need to work outside of the home. As a dog owner, you may feel guilty about leaving your dog for extended periods of time, but remember that as long as you are supplying them with physical companionship, physical activity, a healthy diet, adjusting them to a new schedule, and ultimately, love, your dog will remain living a happy and healthy life just like you they were when you were home with them.
As you transition into a new work environment, your dog will begin adjusting to a new lifestyle. It is important to think about your dog’s physical and mental health as you begin working out of the house. With time and effort, you and your dog will take positive strides towards creating a top-notch schedule that benefits both of you. The dog community is all in this together so know that you are not alone in this matter. To learn more about how to keep your dog healthy and happy, join the Drooly community of dog lovers and owners by following our social media accounts and subscribing to our email list.