How to prepare your dog for going back to work

dog on couch

Jenna Meade

Posted February 25, 2022

While working from home has been disruptive for us, it’s felt like an extended holiday for our furry friends. How do we prepare them for when it's over?

For the past two years, our dogs have had the luxury of extra walks, belly rubs, and treats as working-from-home became the norm during the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the announcement to resume regular workplace activities, our furry friends' routine is in for a shock.

Most dogs are creatures of habit and routine, so when it’s time for a major change, it’s a good idea to prepare them so they aren’t blindsided.

By following these steps now, you’ll help your companion feel less lonely and confused during the change, and enable them to calmly ease back into the routine they once knew so well.

Preparing your pooch for your return to work

Reinstate your usual routine

Since the pandemic began in 2020, our lives and lifestyles have been turned upside-down, so it’s likely your pet’s routine has, too. Now’s a good time to return to a more predictable schedule.

According to the RSPCA, like us humans, pets can find unpredictability and dramatic changes to their routines stressful. 

So, take it slow and be compassionate about your dog’s feelings while they readjust. Maintain a schedule of feeding, exercise, toileting, rest and one-on-one time. By following this daily flow, your pet knows what to expect and should cope better when you’re not there.

Be sure to make your departures and arrivals boring. Even though you’re both likely to be excited at the reunion, playing it down means less heightened emotions for your furry friends.

Encourage alone time

Whether you’ve got an introverted cat or an extroverted dog, alone time is crucial in the animal world. Pets need time to recharge, too, and can become overstimulated or exhausted by too much activity or attention.

Start to leave the house to make room for these solo sessions, and set up a dedicated domain where your dog can retreat when they’re overwhelmed, anxious, or just need some time away when others are home. This will help them get used to the idea of you being away from them again. 


woman with dog on beach

 Taking your dog for a morning walk or run can help settle them for the day. Image: Getty.

Stimulate to settle

morning walk or run will do both you and your dog wonders - and set up the day for well-settled success. Don’t have time to leave the house? A game of fetch in the backyard, or a few rounds of tug-of-war over your morning coffee should do the trick. Wait about 20 minutes after exercise for your pet to settle before leaving for the day.

Encourage play

They no longer have you at home to play with, so be sure to leave some toys and activities behind to keep your pals both mentally and physically stimulated. Busy or anxious dogs, in particular, can get destructive if they’re bored.

The RSPCA recommends hiding treats for them to find (make it easy at first to keep them motivated), using a puzzle feeder or giving them a safe toy to cuddle, play with or chew. Rotate toys daily to beat boredom. We have a list of foods that are safe here. 

Add solo sidekicks

There’s a whole world of handy helpers to keep your best mates happy when you’re away. Background noise is a great start. The RSPCA recommends playing soothing classical music or audiobooks while you’re out to mask loud and scary noises, reduce barking in dogs and encourage rest.

They also suggests using synthetic pheromones to help create a safe and relaxing space (such as Adaptil). Plug the diffuser in your pet’s favourite room, or lightly mist the spray on a cloth on their bed. Even though you’re at work, you don’t have to be apart. 


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