The Arizona Republic: Our Dogs Have Adjusted to Having Us at Home. What Happens When We Leave Again?

News Highlights:

  • While one of the best parts about working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic has been the extra time spent with our pets, it can also result in increased stress and undesired behavior issues as people return to work. This is especially true for those pets adopted during the pandemic as they’ve had little time to adjust to their new home before experiencing the stress of a change to their routine.
  • The Arizona Humane Society’s Behavior Specialists are encouraging pet owners to take action now to ensure pets are able to adjust to yet another new normal after returning to work. Learn more. 
  • AHS is now offering virtual pet training lessons via Skype, Zoom, or FaceTime. Sign up for a virtual lesson or consultation for $20 for 30 minutes (all in-person Dog Training classes are temporarily canceled).

The Arizona Republic

Our dogs have adjusted to having us at home. What happens when we leave again?

As a coworker, my dog’s not bad.

Widdle lies at my feet as I work. He gets up when I do, follows me into the kitchen and whines for a treat (his third, my fourth).

We go on walks and eat lunch together.

With more of us working at home full-time, we’re spending more time with our dogs. They’ve had to adjust to that change, said Jenny Dagnino, behavior manager at the Arizona Humane Society. We’re suddenly around all the time, interrupting their naps and taking their spot on the couch. They sense our stress.

But it won’t last forever and it won’t be easy on them when we return to our offices, Dagnino said. Dogs may experience separation anxiety, particularly pets adopted during the pandemic who have only known a full household.

Dagnino said we should prepare them now by setting schedules for walks and feedings that we can keep long term. Play in the morning and evening, not whenever they drop balls in your laps during a conference call.

We should encourage the dogs to spend time alone, napping or playing with toys in another room, she said. Give them a toy with a treat inside to gnaw on.

Leave dogs alone for short periods. Don’t make a fuss about coming and going. Give them a chew stick or a toy. Slowly increase the amount of time you’re away.

Turn the TV on or play classical music. Leave a shirt or blanket with your scent on it.

“They just want a little piece of you,” Dagnino said. It’s why they lie on the couch when you’re gone. It smells like you.

That explains why every time I go to the bathroom, Widdle steals my place.

I can’t complain. Oh, sure, he sleeps on the job. He barks at the mail carrier when I’m on the phone. He swipes pens.

But in the end, our disputes are easily settled with belly rubs.

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