Preparing Your Dog for Post-Pandemic Life | Pupford
September 18th, 2023
Filed under Lifestyle + Stories
While we’ve all grown accustomed to a life of staying home, staying in, and staying put during 2020, it’s finally time to think about what comes next. With a vaccine being rolled out and plans unfolding for returning to a somewhat normal life, we can expect some changes this year.
While some people will still be able to work from home or work according to their preferences, most people will be returning to work and school at some point this year.
Even if that’s not set to happen for several more months, it’s time to start preparing your pup for that change. Some people brought dogs into their home during quarantine for companionship, so they don’t know any other way of life than to have their parents home with them almost all the time. Other dogs got used to not being alone in the several months that everyone’s been home.
Either way, now’s the time to start preparing your dog for post-pandemic life. We’re here with tips and resources to make this a smooth transition!
HOW WILL MY DOG REACT TO THE HOUSE BEING SUDDENLY EMPTY?
Well ideally, they won’t. Let us explain.
Dogs don’t do so well with sudden and extreme change as we do. Without the context that humans get, dogs can get really anxious during big changes.
Imagine you got life-altering shelter-in-place instructions but were never told why. You’d likely be left anxious, wondering if you did something wrong to cause it, and very overwhelmed.
That’s your dog’s thought process for when the post-pandemic transition happens. They have no context to rationalize why their parents are suddenly gone all day, and it can trigger anxiety-induced destructive behaviors -- and a lot of stress.
TIPS FOR MAKING A SUCCESSFUL TRANSITION
If you know your routine is going to change soon (and your dog’s alongside it), don’t worry. There are things you can do to make the transition smooth and stress-free for both parties.
Here are our top three tips for prepping your dog for post-pandemic life:
1. MAKE CHANGES GRADUALLY
The goal of this transition is to gradually adjust from your current routine to what the routine will be when you return to work or school. The key is to make small changes over a few weeks or months so you’re not overwhelming or stressing your dog.
Make these small changes until your routine resembles your post-pandemic routine as closely as possible, if not completely. Here’s a checklist to help you build your new routine:
- Sleep schedule. Start going to bed and waking up at the time you’ll need to for work or school so your dog can get on the sleep schedule too.
- Feeding time. If there will be changes to your dog’s feeding schedule, make 10-15 minute changes over the course of a few weeks.
- Climate. Will the temperature or brightness of your house change much from you not being home? If so, start gradually adjusting the thermostats and the lights.
- Existing habits. If you began walking your dog more than usual because of the pandemic, start going back to the way things will be when you’re not home. That may mean getting a friend or neighbor to take over mid-day walks or consolidate to just morning and evening walks.
- Shifting attention. Similarly to walks, start moving your play times, training sessions, snuggles, or any other attention to times of day where you will be home in the future.
- Alone time. Even if you have nowhere to go just yet, start reintroducing alone time. Leave your house, even to go for a walk around the block or run an errand. Do these at various times and for various lengths to get your dog used to you leaving and coming home.
Remember, doing this gradually is key. If you notice your dog is showing signs of stress or anxiety, or showing destructive behavior, slow down. You can also refer to this article for tips for putting an end to destructive behavior when your dog is home alone.
2. LEARN HOW TO MAKE ALONE TIME EXCITING AND ENGAGING
Since your dog hasn’t spent significant time alone in a while, it’s important to remind them that it’s not a punishment and nothing to be afraid of. Make alone time more exciting and engaging by:
- Only speaking about the crate or confined area with a happy, positive tone of voice.
- Providing dog chews for a long-lasting, tasty way to keep your dog entertained.
- Opt for an engagement toy like a lick mat or snuffle mat so dogs can entertain themselves. (Learn all about the benefits of snuffle mats here.)
- If your dog is prone to separation anxiety, brush up on the Separation Anxiety Course in the Pupford Academy to make the transition smoother.
3. MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR TIME HOME WITH YOUR PUP
Alone time will be easier for your dog if time spent together is more fulfilling. Make sure to get in plenty of play time, productive training sessions, walks, and love during the time that you do spend together in the day. This will also help solidify your new adjusted schedule with your pup!
Related Reading: Why Dogs Like Being Pet + Where to Pet a Dog
I think we speak for everyone when we say that post-pandemic “normal” life can’t come soon enough! But while it may not be here yet, all pup parents should be preparing for it so it can be a smooth transition.