Prepare Your Dog for Back-To-School and Back to the Office

September 1st, 2021

Fall is here and it’s time for back-to-school and in 2021, back-to-the-office. After more than a year of being at home, your dog has gotten used to you being around and available. So how do you help them – and you – transition successfully to more time spent apart? We’ve got some tips and tricks to help make the switch less stressful for everyone.

Get Your Dog Ready

Before you head back to the office or the family is off to school, it is wise to gradually introduce your pet to alone time. Whether you adopted a Quarantine Puppy or have a dog that has enjoyed having you around all the time you don’t want to just up and leave one day – they won’t understand what has just happened. Start slow and add time incrementally. Leave the house for 1 hour to start and build up to a half day and then a full day over the course of a couple of weeks. Taking walks in the evening before you start the new schedule will help your dog acclimate while you are still at home. Then when you leave for the day, they will expect their nightly walk, instead of one whenever they whine.

Don’t have that much time? Animals are resilient and generally acclimate quickly. Make an extra effort to get in more exercise every day and provide a distraction as you leave in the morning. Try a puzzle toy, like a Kong filled with treats, play a white noise machine, or turn on the TV when you leave, or consider a pet camera for the extra anxious (you or the dog!) to check in on them throughout the day – some even dispense treats! It is also a good idea to feed your dog in a separate room – even when you are home – so that they can associate something positive with your absence.

Create a Safe Space

If your dog is kennel trained, time away is a great use for this training. Create a kennel, or den, for them to cuddle up in with their favorite toys, blanket and food and water. Even if you don’t lock it, a cozy spot for your dog to stay while you are away helps lower their stress levels and gives you some peace of mind knowing they won’t be tearing around the house causing chaos. It doesn’t have to be a kennel, this space may also look like a favorite corner or nook where they eat, sleep and feel comfortable.

Get Outside Help

For dogs that are very social or with high separation anxiety, Doggy Daycare or using a dog walker are effective solutions. Doggy Daycare, like at Happy Hound in Oakland, gives your pup a chance to play with other dogs and get plenty of attention, outside time, and will help burn up some nervous energy. At Happy Hound, every dog is ‘interviewed’ prior to being accepted into daycare and boarding to make sure your pup is a good fit so that they will enjoy their stay. 

Happy Hound Doggy Daycare features separate areas based on the size of the dog – Little Hound Town, Middle Hound Town, Big Hound Town – as well as a Puppy Park for the newest members of the family or Lounge Around Town for the seniors. Every playroom includes interactive play structures, indoor and outdoor access, comfy doggie beds, toys and dedicated attention from our trained staff.

Have a dog that is not spayed/neutered, requires medical care or has behavioral issues? Ask about our Enhanced Care option for one-on-one care and walks.

If your dog prefers to be alone or is comfortable at home but needs to get a little fresh air or socialization during a long day away, try a dog walking service. Happy Hound dog walkers explore different areas around the Oakland Hills, Berkeley, visit dog parks at Point Isabel and the Albany Bulb, and walk throughout different neighborhoods to keep things interesting. 

Happy Hound offers group or individual dog walks that last one hour each. Walks are done from Happy Hound or we can pick up your pooch and drop them off while you are at work.

Know the Signs of Stress and Anxiety

When it is time to go back to school or the office, keep an eye on your dog’s behavior for changes in mood or new, destructive habits so you can adjust your planning to minimize their stress. Signs to watch out for include:

  • Excessive barking, whining or whimpering
  • Shaking, panting or pacing
  • Chewing up furniture, blinds, etc.
  • Rough play or biting
  • Isolation
  • Potty accidents

If you notice these signs during the first week back at school or the office, don’t panic. A little adjustment time is normal. Extend your morning walks or add in some energetic play time after work to use up some energy. A dog that is stressed when alone will benefit at Happy Hound Dog Daycare or from a visit by a friendly Happy Hound Dog Walker.

If the chewing, barking or aggression start to get out of hand, revisit your dog training and work on basic commands or consider a professional Happy Hound dog training course. A few weeks of intensive training will not only reduce behavioral issues but will give your pup some human interaction during the day, increasing their confidence and comfort as they relearn boundaries. As a pack animal, dogs often feel safer when they are instructed on the proper behavior versus having too many choices and breaking into a panic.

With a little preparation and planning, you and your dog can successfully ween off of 100% together time and even enjoy a bit of separation. Over less time than you think, your dog will get used to you being gone and fall into a new routine. Your dog may even enjoy the peace and quiet during the day while the kids are at school and take a long nap.

The professionals at Happy Hound are here to help you at every step. Try our award-winning Dog Training to relearn good habits and bring your dog to Happy Hound Doggie Daycare for playtime while you are away. Our professional Dog Walking service is always available to give your dog some exercise, fresh air and attention. You can even pamper your pup at our Bath & Howl Day Spa with a bath, mani/pedi, brushing and more! Call the experts at Happy Hound with any questions or to set up an interview and enroll your dog in daycare.