There are so many wonderful things about having a dog in your life. There’s no doubt they bring so much joy, love, and fun to our world. However, having a pup makes a few things in life complicated. This list includes traveling, finding apartments, and figuring out what to do with a dog while at work. Let’s face it, most of us have to work. We have bills to pay and families to take care of and working from home is not possible for many occupations. If you are confused and not sure what to do about your dog being at home for long hours during the day, read on to learn some tips that might just help!
What to do with a Dog While at Work
Try and Go for a Long Walk Before you Leave
This may not always be possible depending on your work schedule, however if you do have extra time in the morning, consider taking your dog for an early morning walk around the neighborhood. This routine will provide many benefits for the both of you. Walking is not only good for your physical and mental health but your dog will also get the opportunity to exercise and get some excess energy out before you leave for the work day. Plus, spending time together is never a bad thing when it comes to your pup.
Keep your Dog on a Schedule
Dogs love a good routine. Keeping your dog on a schedule can help to reduce separation anxiety and added stress. This all comes down to expectations. If you create a regular routine, your dog will know what to expect throughout their whole day. For instance, they will know that after they wake up, they go for a morning walk, eat breakfast, and settle down for your work day.
Create a Safe Space for your Dog at Home
Before you leave for your work day, make sure you have thought about a safe space for your dog in the house. Are you allowing your dog access to the whole house? Are you limiting your dog to a certain room in the house (like the living room)? Will you crate train your dog? Have a plan set before you leave the house.
Make sure your dog has access to their dog food, fresh water, etc. If you are leaving them in a certain area of your home, make sure they have a comfortable spot to take a mid-day nap. Also, plan for potty breaks. Are you currently potty training and need to leave out puppy pads? Will you be able to come home and let them out for potty breaks mid-day? These are all things to consider.
Interactive Toys/Puzzle Toys
Have you ever heard the expression “a busy dog is a happy dog?” In my opinion, keeping your dog busy mentally is equally as important as keeping them physically active. Keeping your dog’s mind busy is always a good idea. This will help lead to less anxiety/stress and reduce chances for destructive behavior. I have two very active Australian Shepherds (comes with the territory with this breed especially) and if a lot of their time is not occupied, that is when it leads to destructive chewing. It is our job as pet parents to try and limit this by giving your dog plenty of opportunities for activities.
The following items mentioned help to provide mental stimulation for your pup.
- snuffle mat– if you have never heard of this term, you might be thinking, what is a snuffle mat? A snuffle mat is an interactive mat that has strips of fabric that can be used to hide dog treats. Essentially, it is a game of hide and seek for your dog. You hide the treats between the pieces of fabric and your dog sniffs the treats out.
- food puzzles/puzzle feeder– there are so many puzzle toys you can buy to keep your dog’s brain busy as well. My dog’s favorite toy in this category is the Bob-A-Lot treat dispensing toy. This keeps them occupied for awhile and they get yummy treats. Win-win!
Safe Chew Toys
Another great option for your dog to stay busy while you are at work is by chewing on safe chew toys. Since they will be unsupervised, make sure the toy is in no-way a choking hazard. Ensure there are no little pieces that could easily break off that your dog could accidentally choke on. One of my all-time favorite toys is the good ole’ classic Kong toy. The great thing about Kongs is they have different “chewer” levels depending on your dog. They make super chewer Kongs and even puppy ones. This way you don’t have to worry about little pieces breaking off and potentially becoming a problem. Fill the Kong toy with natural peanut butter for an added treat. Chew toys are a great way to keep dogs entertained for a long time.
Go Home on your Lunch Break if you Can
I realize this option might not be possible for everyone, however if you happen to work close to home, consider stopping by the house on your lunch to let your dog out for a potty break and spend quality time together during the work day. At my previous job, I had a coworker who lived 10 minutes away from work and she went home to let her dog out everyday on her lunch break. Your dog will be happy to see you if you can make it happen!
Hire a Dog Walker
It is very likely you will not be able to swing coming home during the work day. A great solution is to hire a dog walker. This is a person who will stop by the house a couple times a day to walk your dog and give you peace of mind. Make sure to do your research on the dog walker and hire someone responsible, dependable, and someone who of course…loves dogs. Consider doing a meet and greet before your dog walker comes to your house for the first time. This will give your dog a chance to meet the person and vice-versa.
A daycare program will probably be the most expensive thing on the list, but if it is in your budget, taking your dog to a doggy day care throughout the work day can be a great option. Many doggy daycares provide time to play outside, socialize with other dogs, get loved on, etc. This can be a great option for dog owners who know they will have to be at work for longer periods of time. Again, make sure to do your research on the doggy daycares in your local area (read reviews, check out their social media, etc.).
Things to Think About before Enrolling your Dog in a Daycare
- Make sure you have all your dog’s vaccinations good-to-go
- Does your dog get along well with other dogs?
- Does your dog suffer from separation anxiety?
- Does your dog have a medical condition the daycare employees should know about?
- How many days a week will you use daycare? Half-day or full day?
**If you are leaving for a longer period of time (vacation or a work trip) and have to board your dog, read our helpful guide all about boarding your dog. This includes everything from how to pick the right boarders, what you need to pack, and everything in-between.
Dog’s Day Out at a Friend’s House
If you have a close friend who is also a crazy dog parent, discuss times you both could watch each other’s dogs. For example, if your friend has a day off through the week, you could drop your pup off at their house and they could do the same for theirs on one of your off days. This option will take some coordination but its a possibility for some folks.
Get a Pet Camera
One of the best things I did for my anxiety when it came to my dogs was investing in a pet camera. A pet camera is a small camera you set up in a room in your house (the room your dog will be in most of the time when you are away) that allows you to keep an eye on your dog. Many cameras use an app you download on your smartphone. Simply log on and check on your dog throughout the day. This helps to give so much peace of mind and takes seconds to check.
There are so many options on the market when it comes to pet cameras. You can buy a camera that is budget-friendly or splurge on a high-tech one. Some cameras will allow you to speak to your dog through a microphone and dispense treats, like the Furbo Dog Camera. I set my camera in the living room and check in on my dogs when I am at my teaching job. Plus, it’s interesting to see what your dogs do while you are away. Spoiler Alert: if your dogs are like mine, they take a lot of naps…a lot.
Have a Family Member Check-in
If you have the luxury of having a close family member nearby, have them check in on your dog mid-day if possible. My sister lives down the road and works from home, so sometimes she will check in with my dogs if I need her to. If that’s not possible, see if there is someone in your neighborhood you can trust to check in with your dogs throughout the day. If you do not know anyone personally, check to see if your local neighborhood has a Facebook page. Many neighborhoods have their own groups where neighbors can write posts about needing dog sitters/walkers, etc. Try and see if there is anyone looking for a little part-time job a few hours a week.
Leave Classical Music on for your Dog
Just like humans, soft music can bring a sense of calm to your dog. Classical music has been known to lower heart rate and anxiety levels. This is a great tip for dogs who suffer from separation anxiety. Some dog owners even leave the television on for their dogs when they are away so they don’t feel as alone (my mom does this with her poodles).
Ensure your Dog has a Window to Look Out
Personally, I would feel so anxious if I was left in a dark room all day that had no windows. Make sure your dog has a window or glass door to look out at while you are gone. This way, sunshine can be let in and your dog can watch all the neighborhood squirrels go by. My dogs love laying in the rays of sunshine that cast in the house during the day.
Consider Getting a 2nd Dog
Now this is a huge commitment and not everyone should have another dog. But, I thought it should be mentioned because I have personal experience in this department. My dog Lacy was an “only dog” for three years before Maverick joined our family. I always felt so guilty leaving Lacy all by herself throughout the day. She was lonely and had no one to play with. She is so much happier now having a playmate and running buddy. Plus, I feel so much better about leaving them together than having to think about her being isolated and alone all day.
Please don’t take this advice as you should run out to get another dog because you think your dog needs a friend. This is a huge decision and should NOT be taken lightly. Make sure you are in the right spot in your life to add on another huge commitment. But, there is no doubt that having Maverick helps greatly with Lacy’s (my first dog) separation anxiety.
Happy Dog=Happy Life
The most important thing before leaving for work after getting your dog is to have your plan in place. Do not wait until the night before work when you have a new puppy and think “oh no, what am I going to do? I can’t leave him here all day!” If you are reading this post, I can only assume this will not be your situation. So, next time you think about what to do with a dog while at work, try out these tips and tricks. It is totally doable to balance a full-time job and a happy and fulfilled dog.