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Preparing Your Pup to be Left Alone When Returning to Work

With the worldwide distribution of the COVID-19 vaccination, it seems possible that life could return to some semblance of normalcy soon. Many people will be returning to work or looking for new jobs. If you got a dog during the lockdown or your own pup has become used to having you home full-time, it may be a difficult transition for them to suddenly be alone all day.

While dogs shouldn’t be left alone for extended periods of time regularly, having a pet and working full-time is normal. With a spike in people looking for companions during the lockdown, it’s no wonder that “the community adoption rate for pets is 73% [from January to June of 2020]”, according to USA Today

Last year saw many shelters completely emptied, which is incredible news for pups who were looking for homes. However, how will the dogs feel as their once-homebound parents start returning to work? We have some ideas on how you can prepare your pooch to be left alone for longer periods of time.

labradoodle sitting on couch

Get Them Used to You Leaving

If you haven’t been making regular trips to the grocery or leaving for a long walk without your pet, now’s the time to start. Experts believe that this process should be started slowly, and gradually built over several weeks or even months. You can leave some treats on the ground for your dog when you go, starting with simply leaving the house and returning 30 seconds later. Next time, walk down the street and back. Further, head to the store or take a longer drive. 

It’s important to mimic the routine you’ll be following when you return to work; grab your keys, sunglasses, and other items you would normally take. Your dog will learn that hearing these sounds means you’re leaving them and will get used to the noises.

Make a Safe Zone

If you’re planning to leave your dog for a while, they will need a place that they feel comfortable and happy in. Don’t lock them in a crate for 8 hours while you’re at work, and don’t put them in an unfamiliar room; some dogs may be happy to lie around anywhere in the house, while others may need a sectioned-off space to keep them out of trouble. Keep your dog away from windows, because they won’t be able to see people or cars going by, which can stress them out if they’re alone.

Plan Some Entertainment

If your dog has gotten used to walking three times a day or playtime every few hours, it may be hard for them to transition to having less fun time. Plan out some exercise for your pup, such as hiring a dog walker or coming home at lunch to let them out and play for a while. 

You can also try to make the time you can spend with your dog more exciting. Walk your dog on new routes with new smells, and let them sniff everything (even if they sniff forever). Your dog likely hasn’t had much mental stimulation, so new smells can be exciting for them. You could also put them in the car and walk them somewhere completely new, take them to a dog beach, or get them a free Pup Cup!

Prepare for Issues

Your dog will likely need a period of time where you’ll have to be extra understanding. They may not be used to having to hold their pee for 8 hours, for example, so if you come back home to a mess, don’t punish them. Instead, simply let them out and clean up the mess. They may rip up things that aren’t their toys out of boredom, but by the time you get home, they may not remember what they did wrong. If things are getting especially bad, you can always reach out for training help.

Know When to Splurge

When you adopt a dog, you are making a lifelong commitment to ensuring their happiness and well-being. This also means that if you can’t meet a dog’s needs, you might need to think about hiring some help. If your workday is longer than 8 hours, you will want to hire a professional dog walker or doggy daycare service. Dogs require attention, and leaving them for extended periods can be considered neglect. If your dog is struggling to adapt to its new routine, you may want to hire a dog trainer. They can help your dog adjust as well as give you tips on how to best help your pup get used to being alone.

small dog giving high five

Need a Paw? We Can Help.

At Doggy Detail, we understand that people have busy lives. Sometimes, there is no way around having to leave your dog at home for many hours a day. That’s where we come in. If you need a hand with regular dog walking, pet sitting, or playtime, we can help provide your dogs with the love and attention they deserve! Give us a call at (847) 212-5616, send us an email at, or use our online contact form to get in touch. We can’t wait to hear from you!

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