Returning back to work after COVID

 

The year 2020 was different for many.  For some of us, it meant moving our workstations home and spending lots of time with our beloved pets.  But what happens when we go back into the office and leave our beloved fur babies home alone?  Dog Separation Anxiety can set in. 


Since adoptions soared during stay-at-home orders and other quarantine procedures, some of us will be going back to  office spaces after spending a lot of time at home with our furry friends.  For many, this will even be the first time they’re leaving their dogs for long periods of time!


If your pup has gotten used to having you around, suddenly going back to the office can cause quite a bit of separation anxiety. Here are a few behavioral and even medicinal steps you can take to prevent and manage any stress for your beloved furry friend. 

 

Teamwork makes the dream work.

via GIPHY


How to prepare


Once separation anxiety sets in, your pup could start showing signs of a few negative behaviors.  Since these can be difficult to manage, and can mean your pup is really struggling with being away from you. 


Before you even give your dog a chance to manage possible separation anxiety on their own, you can absolutely try to prevent the stress from settling in!  


Get your dog used to your absence


If you’ve been spending most of your time at home, your pup has most likely gotten used to having you around.  In order to ease the transition, you can slowly get your dog used to being home alone again.  


Try leaving your home for short periods of time.  You can start with something as simple as taking a walk around your block and coming back home.  Build up the amount of time slowly by leaving for a few moments, then for a few hours, up to what a typical day at work would look like for your dog.


Bring back your routine


When you leave for work, does your dog typically remain in a crate?  Did you used to take walks first thing in the morning before heading out to the office?  


By slowly getting back to your pre-quarantine routine, your pup will thank you.  If you have a bit of a commute to the office, start being up and active around the time you would typically use to get ready.  Incorporate that schedule into your current routine so that your dog (and you) can get back into the groove without harsh transitions.


If you did make exercise or food-related schedule changes for your dog while you were staying home, make sure to slowly get back to your in-office schedule there, too.  Let mealtimes reflect what they will be once you’re working away from home, and do the same for exercise and play.  Your dog will be much happier knowing what to expect. 


It’s okay to make changes


Have you found a new activity you like to do mid-morning or in the afternoons with your pup during your breaks at home?  Don’t worry about following your exact pre-quarantine schedule.  While structure and scheduling are important, of course it’s okay to adapt your routine to what you and your best bud need now.


If your pup got used to playing a living-room-safe game of fetch with you in the mornings, try adding that or something similar into your schedule before leaving for work.  Having a bit of exercise before you leave the home can help reduce stress for your dog as well, since it would use up your pup’s energy before you even walk out the door.


My dog still became anxious


Despite having the best of intentions and trying to prevent your furry friend from getting stressed, it is absolutely possible for your dog to still go through at least some separation anxiety.  


“It's not fully understood why some dogs suffer from separation anxiety and others don't. But remember, your dog's behaviors are part of a panic response. Your dog isn't trying to punish you! They just want you to come home!”


Some signs of separation anxiety include: 


  • Following you around your home, especially when you’re getting ready to leave
  • Hyperactivity or withdrawn behavior while you are leaving
  • Destruction like chewing or digging
  • Excessive barking or whining 

Of course, part of the problem is that some of these behaviors will manifest when you are no longer home.  This makes it tougher to see how badly the stress of your absence is affecting your pup.  However, coming home to chewed or torn-up items, having neighbors share they’ve heard your pup being more vocal, or changes in behavior during your morning routine can be tell-tale signs.


Milder cases of separation anxiety typically show signs while you are in the home.  How does your dog react to the sound of your keys jingling in your hand when you pick them up, or other parts of your routine that signal you’re about to leave?


If your furry friend is hiding away from you, it can signal an underlying fear of your absence.  Alternatively, your pup may actually follow you around even more than usual.  Both ends of the spectrum could mean your dog is struggling with coping when it comes to your leaving.


More severe cases tend to manifest behaviors while you’re away.  This can make it a little harder to even recognize your pup is struggling, since the signs happen when you’re not home to see them.  


However, a tip from your neighbors letting you know they’ve heard more barking or whining from your dog can clue you in.  You’ll also most likely find items destroyed, like ripped pillows, chewed-up shoes, or carpet and rugs with nail marks running through. 

How can I calm my dog’s anxiety?


If separation anxiety has gotten a hold of your pup, there are ways you can help:


  1. Desensitize your dog from your leaving-home routine
  2. Refocus the attention to something else
  3. Reward good behavior
  4. Encourage independence 

Click here to see more information on how to manage your dog’s separation anxiety with behavioral changes.  Making an effort when it comes to your dog’s behavior and reactions can make a big difference.  


These methods, however, take time; persistence is key!  The results are very much worth it. If you need help with focusing the attention away, try a few longer-lasting toys or puzzles for your pooch. 


Before Returning to Office

After Returning to Office

Establish routine with mealtimes and exercise

Reward good behavior

Build up time away slowly

Enjoy quality one-on-one time

Desensitize from leaving-home routine

Refocus attention

Create independent behaviors

Continue independent activities

Make morning routine fun

Keep routine and expectations consistent

Be persistent



Make sure to get some quality time! 

via GIPHY


Supplements


Sometimes even our best of intentions can fall short.  Thankfully, supplements can help calm your furry friend even when you’re not there with them.


A few ingredients that can have a positive effect on your pup would include L-Theanine, Holy Basil, GABA, and Ashwagandha.  Each of these ingredients have effects on dogs that can significantly aid in keeping them calm.  You can click here to learn more about each ingredient. 



L-Theanine

Holy Basil

GABA

Ashwagandha

Supports a calm mood


x


x


x


x

Improves concentration


x


x

Supports healthy immune system


x


x

Improves stress response


x


x

Improves sleep


x



Wondering if we can help?  Click here to take a look at our story, and see if one of our supplements is right for you. 

Resources:

https://www.rover.com/blog/covid-pet-adoption/ 


https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/does-your-dog-freak-out-when-you-leave 


https://www.puppyleaks.com/separation-anxiety/ 


https://www.puppyleaks.com/mild-separation-anxiety/ 


https://www.rover.com/blog/how-to-crate-train-a-puppy/ 


https://www.puppyleaks.com/teach-your-dog-search


https://www.puppyleaks.com/indestructible-dog-toys-its-just-kong-and-balls/