How can I start preparing my dog for my return to work?
As well as the steps laid out on the previous page, you can also start to introduce the concept of ‘alone-time’ whilst you’re still working from home. Remember, alone time is in no way a punishment, so keep it casual and positive for your dog. If they don’t grasp this initially, that’s ok, just reduce what you’re asking for (see below).
To put this into action, choose a time when you’ve walked your dog and they have been to the toilet, had their food and they have access to fresh water. Then if they don’t do it themselves, ask them to go into their bed or wherever they rest and praise them for it calmly. At this stage you can say “won’t be long” or something that you might say if you were leaving the house. Go and do whatever you need to do (it’s best if it’s a quiet and calm activity so as not to cause intrigue or excitement – at this point you want to appear very boring!). Within a short period of time (to start with), stop what you’re doing and if your dog is awake, calmly praise them. The point here is, for gradually increasing times, your dog will get used to the fact that you are not interacting with them. It may be that you need to start this is tiny increments of a few seconds if you find that your dog keeps getting up to be with you. Remember, this is all different for them, especially to young dogs and puppies.
As your dog gradually manages to rest without your attention for longer periods, you can then start the process again, but go and do your work in a different room. This may well be more difficult for them as they now can’t see you, so begin from scratch with very small periods of time. You could leave them with a food puzzle filled with Harringtons FreshBakes or kibble if they aren’t naturally tired. This will provide mental stimulation which will help them to be without you.
The solutions that work best for your dog and for you, and the ones that will last on an ongoing basis, are often the ones that take more time and patience initially. You will be doing a huge service to your dog to ensure that he/she is coping well with these transitions. You’ve already taken the first big step by reading up about it!