5 Ways to Prepare Your Dog for a new Work or School Routine

Aug 01, 2020     |      Sophie's Circle

A small dog is waiting in front of a storm doorAlthough your dog is happiest when he is with his favorite humans, there are some things you can do to help prepare him for the day when his routine has to include more alone time due to work and school requirements. These five steps can mean the difference between creating anxiety and adding comfort during this confusing time. Apply them to your daily life to establish more of a relaxed tone that can reduce stress for the whole family, both two-legged and four-legged members, during significant changes.

Practice Your new Schedule
Changes in your routine, especially those that leave your dog alone for longer periods of time, can be a major stressor for your dog resulting in some unwanted behaviors such as urinating indoors, crying incessantly until your return, or chewing on furniture. In fact, he may feel like he is being punished after becoming used to the family being together. This is particularly the case if you have been staying home from work and school during the COVID-19 pandemic over the past several months. Therefore, the first thing a dog needs to feel safe and secure with your new work and school routine is to practice your new feeding, walking, and play schedule before you have to leave for your job or it's time to take the kids to school. Try to give him as many days of this new routine as you can while still at home with him. It also helps to temporarily leave the house after his morning feeding, walk and play session This way, he learns to adjust to his new breaks and understands his needs will be met, whether you are home throughout the day or not.

Don't Forget Mid-Day Potty Breaks!
Sometimes, we have to be away from our dogs for longer than six hours at a time. When drinking enough water, your dog should urinate every four to six hours at the most! The good news is there are many canine fans in your area who would LOVE to let your dog have some time outside and give him the much-needed attention he misses while you are away. Sites like Rover and Wag! are examples of dog-loving experts who get five-star tail wags from their clients and have been screened for your pet's safety. Another option is to trade off like services with a friend or use a doggy daycare in your area where your furry friend can socialize with a variety of other dogs who can keep him entertained until you arrive to bring him home.

Remember, This is the new Normal
As a pet owner, do you always feel like somebody's watching? That's because much like children, your dog is paying close attention to everything you do in addition to your tone and body language while performing that task. By frantically racing through the home looking for your shoes or shouting for everyone to wake up because you overslept could trigger a nervous response in your observant furry buddy. Therefore, as you make changes to his routine, be sure to allow enough time to casually dress, feed and walk him, and eat a nutritious breakfast to let him know all is well.

Designate a Safe Space for Him
This is something all dog owners should have from those first few days of bringing your rescued pet home. Ask your veterinarian for the right size crate for your dog to ensure he has enough room to turn around and stand yet not too much room to play. Although it may feel like you are punishing your dog when you use a crate for times when you are sleeping or away from the home, your dog will soon begin to see this tool as a safe place to go when he wants time alone or when he is scared. In other words, it should have a calming effect on your dog over a period of time after being properly introduced to the crate with repeated praise and other rewards during your regular routine.

Reward Only Calm Behaviors
Speaking of praise, the best way to train your dog to perform wanted behaviors and stop unwanted behaviors is to reward him when he is doing the task you desire while in a calm state. For example, if he is jumping on you when you get home from work or school, give him a firm low-pitched command to "Sit". You may need to help him into the sit position the first week while he learns this command. However, it is important to be both consistent and only reward him for following your command in a calm manner. In this example, you could give him the command once, place him into the sit position, and then stand still while not looking at him until he does as asked. His good work of staying calm in his sit position is then rewarded with loads of praise, a playful higher-pitched tone, and/or a treat. 

After applying all the above five tips to your new routine, this next stage in your adventure together can be a rewarding one as opposed to a stressful change. If you are looking for that special dog who will look forward to spending time with you when you get home each day from work or school, we have some amazing furry friends waiting for an owner like you! On our website, you can browse our latest rescues on our adoption page or volunteer to become a foster parent. Find out why rescue owners say once you invite your adoptee into your heart, you will no longer know if you rescued him or he rescued you!