Adjusting to a New Normal with Your Pup
Our dogs have likely benefited from many of us being home and have enjoyed the company! They’re getting more attention, play time, walks, and even training. However, once everyone begins to go back to their previously normal routine, dogs may have a hard time adjusting. Our wonderful time spent at home with them may cause them stress or anxiety when suddenly we are gone for many hours at a time again. During your time at home, there are ways you can help your dog continue to be comfortable with you leaving the home. Once you have a plan to return to a normal schedule, there are additional steps you can take to help your pup adjust along with ways to keep your dog happy once you’re back on track.
We don’t know what the rest of the social distancing precautions will be as we go back to normal routines, so these tips are based on current information and potential, upcoming scenarios.
While You’re at Home
If you’re currently at home with your dog and aren’t sure when you may go back to your old schedule or something like it, you can still work with your pup to stave off stress and anxiety when you leave. Try incorporating these tips into your weekly routine to make future separation less stressful when the time comes.
Practice short periods of separation.
- This may be while you’re in the garage, if you’re picking up groceries, going to the basement, yard or porch, or other types of activities that don’t include your dog. Note that separation when a dog can hear/see you may be more difficult for some dogs than when you’ve left the house completely.
- Take a walk without your pup. This may seem mean, but it can help them adjust. It doesn’t need to be a long walk!
- Provide puzzles, long-lasting treats or chews, or interactive toys when you begin practicing leaving your dog alone.
Change up your leaving “routine” and don’t make good-byes a big deal.
Dogs are sensitive to routine and can identify, based on the motions you go through, when you are getting ready to leave the house.
The idea here is to simply set your dog up and go (don’t make a fuss, try to soothe them with your voice, or give them lengthy pets, etc.) You want to help minimize their anticipation by altering your routine.
- Leave through different doors.
- Put on your shoes or jacket, but walk around the house instead of immediately leaving.
- Get ready to go, but then play with your pup for 5 minutes before leaving.
- Put your keys in your pocket long before you actually leave.
- Leave and come back immediately on occasion.
Make your current routine at home less predictable.
- Alter the time of, length, and route of a walk, getting dressed for work, but not going anywhere (and sometimes getting dressed for work and leaving for practice.)
- Change up break or play times, etc.
Getting Ready for a Return
While much is unknown about future schedules and routines, if you get an update that tells you a return to your previous or similar schedule is coming, you can plan to work with your pup during your remaining time at home.
The goal is to prepare your pup the best you can for your ultimate re-entry into a normal routine by slowly changing your current home routine into one that mimics what will become normal once again.
Continue incorporating the tips to practice leaving your pup alone.
- Vary your schedule, incorporate puzzles and toys to occupy your pup when you depart, as listed in the At Home section.
- Leave the house without your pup (as permitted by local regulations.)
Work with your company to determine when you’re going to resume a normal schedule so you can prepare your pup.
- Ideally, you’d have a window of time between getting a return date and returning, but that may not be possible.
- If possible, phase into a new routine by slowly increasing the time you spend outside the house away from your dog (half days, alternating days, etc.)
Slowly decrease the amount of enrichment and walks your pup gets throughout the week.
- Don’t eliminate these completely, but try to get back to what you were able to do before any change in schedule.
When you do practice leaving your pup alone, check out these tips to help wear your pup out beforehand and to keep him or her occupied during that time.
Once You’re Back on Track
When you’ve started transitioning back to the new normal, keep up your interaction with your pup! It will be an adjustment for both of you. Make sure you set aside time each day to play, train, and enrich your dog’s life and maintain your bond.
When you do need to leave for a longer period:
- Provide exercise prior to leaving to tire out your pup.
- Utilize longer-lasting toys or treats to offer before leaving.
- Check out great ways to wear out or occupy your pup here.
Take advantage of Doggy Day Care where your pup can socialize with people and other dogs in a safe environment and not be alone all day! Many Camp Bow Wow® locations also offer enrichment, training, and grooming to fulfill your pup’s needs.
- If you haven’t tried out Camp yet, set up an interview to help get your pup adjusted to Camp life. Find a Camp Bow Wow® near you here.
- If your pup is already a Camper, consider extra days to keep him or her occupied during the transition.
- Add a customized, individual enrichment options available at participating Camp locations to mimic your pup’s life at home.
Join a virtual dog training class!
- A class that can be taken from the comfort of your own home can help you dedicate time to your pup each week.
Quick Guide/Tip Sheet
- Practice leaving your pup for short periods of time.
- Change up your routine.
- Wear your pup out before you go.
- Save favorite puzzles and treats for when you leave, but not the same one each time.
- Try out or return to Camp!