By Hollie Williams, founder of Lawoofs of Devon
It's finally here, the day many of us hoped and prayed would never come!
We're going back to the office.
Although many employers have adapted to allow their staff to continue working from home, there are still a large number that are prepping for the mass return to the workplace.
You may even be looking forward to getting back into the familiar routine, but you can be sure that your dog isn't.
Whether you have a lockdown puppy, or your dog has been part of the family for much longer, there is no doubt that they have grown to love having you around.
A recent study by The Dogs Trust found that dogs were reported to be spending more time with human members of their household during the Covid pandemic. Nearly 70% of dogs were spending more time with adults and over 86% were spending more time with children.
In comparison the study found that many dogs were, in contrast, spending less time with other dogs.
As a result of lockdown, and the changes our lives went through, it has been reported that a high percentage of dogs have developed behavioural problems, often these were behaviours that they had previously not demonstrated.
Never mind planning for your commute, separation anxiety should be at the top of the list when preparing for your return to work.
We would like to share some hints and tips that might help in the transition.
Jumping straight back into leaving your dog for 9 hours a day is going to be a shock to the system. If you can, start leaving the house for short periods at a time. Gradually build this up, day by day, so your dog can acclimatise.
Some dogs will need to take this slower than others, so really pay attention to their behaviour. Pacing, crying, being destructive, or excessive panting can show that your dog is in distress and may need to work at a slower pace
Create a happy environment
If you can, prepare your dog by leaving them with a fun, enriching puzzle game, their favourite toy, or a natural tasty treat.
If you are able to leave them in a dog safe space, whether it be crate, hallway or designated room, with things they enjoy, while you go into another room, it will help them start to feel happy and secure away from you.
It is always helpful to proceed this with a long energetic walk. A sleepy dog is often more content to relax and go with the flow.
There are many forms of doggy daycare, whether it's a full day, an hour's walk, or just someone popping in to enable them to have a toilet break, all provide that much needed companionship.
We personally found that a couple of walks a week, not only allowed Otis to socialise with his doggy furriends, but increased his confidence too.
He suffered with major separation anxiety, but after just a couple of walks with the group, he would happily shoot out the door with them, without so much as a second sniff back in our direction.
He quickly learned that us not being there could actually be a lot of fun!
Comfort is key
For really anxious dogs, creating a super cosy, comfy, cushioned dog bed for them can go a long way.
Dogs are den animals, have you ever seen a nervous dog take shelter under a table, bed, or chair? They feel most secure when in a safe enclosed space.
If you are able to recreate this design for your dog, it will help them feel protected.
We suggest a luxuriously soft dog bed that allows them to cuddle in to the plush cushioning.
Another way to increase the comfort is by using a soft dog drying coat. By placing on your dog, the hug like effect of wearing the coat can act as a security blanket.
All dogs are different, and it's fair to say that some will be much more effected by the family returning to the office than others.
But being able to ease them into the change, and make it as happy a transition as possible, will not only be healthy for your dog, but give you the peace of mind to get back to the workplace.