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Back to Work Plan for your Puppy

Many of us have been working from home for months. Our puppies and dogs have become used to having us around all the time. In most cases they have become less independent and, honestly more needy and reliant on our attention. Although we all enjoy the time with our pets, we need to ask ourselves is this what is best for them? At some point most people will be returning to work leaving our pets alone all day, in some cases for the first time. So, you have a plan in place to ensure your pups safety and well-being. You also need to make sure they are not getting into any trouble throughout the day.

Before returning to work, set your pup up for success by building their confidence and independence. Here are some ideas to help with the transition:

1. Create a routine. What time will you get up in the am? Will dog be crated or confined when you are not at home? What is your pattern before leaving? Take dog for a walk before leaving the house. What toys or chews will you allow your dog to have unsupervised? Will you have a dog walker or neighbour come in to visit during the day? Keep your home coming low key. What time will you go to bed?

2. If your crate or confinement area is new, start the acclimation process. Toss a treat it he crate and say “in you get”. Leave the crate open and repeat until your pup is happily going to their crate each time you tell them to. The next step is to repeat above and close the crate door. Wait until your pup is calm and quiet and let them out of the crate. Gradually build on this until your pup is happy and comfortable.

3. Start going out without your dog several times a day. Put them in their crate, pack up like you’re off to work and head out. Vary the time – 2 minutes, 20 minutes, 3 hours, 5 minutes etc. This will help your dog understand that even thought you leave you always come back. Being unpredictable will help build confidence and independence.

4. Increase usual daily exercise by about 15 minutes.

  • 5. Help dog enjoy calming activities like a stuffed kong. This is how I like to stuff a kong:
    I use kibble and cheez whiz or vanilla yogurt. Block the end of the kong with a piece of
    kibble.
  • Put the kong in a mug. Add kibble to the inside of the kong, then fill with water.
  • Put the kong in the freezer. The kibble will expand and freeze.
  • Just before serving, remove from mug and put a bit of cheez whiz around the rim of the kong.
  • If your dog is not interested in a Kong, reduce their meal ration and feed it to them from a kong.

To make it even more enticing, show your dog the kong, put it in their confinement area and close the door. Your dog can smell the kong but not access it until you are ready to leave.

6. If you are currently working from home but going back to an office is in your future, separate your dog from you periodically during the day. A minimum of 2 hours of crate time while you are home will help build independence. This can be done consecutively or randomly throughout your workday – 20 minutes, 1 hour etc. Set your dog up for success by using the same routine you would before leaving the house – Kong, toys etc.

7. Does your dog have a spot in the house where they prefer to lounge around if not crated? Make that spot even better but adding a cozy bed or random treats.

8. Identify separation issues if they exist. Address serious issues like barking, self-harm and destructive behaviour. You may need specialized help if it is very concerning.

If you have any questions, Ask A Trainer on mypuppytracker.com.