A little practice goes a long way: plan ahead to go back to work

Jun 9, 2020

A little practice goes a long way: plan ahead to go back to work

by Dr. Debra F. Horwitz | Behavior Bits

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When you know that day is approaching, begin by settling your dog in their safe resting spot. By now, you should know what self-play toys engage your dog and remember to use them every day. These toys can be very useful during transition times. It is important to practice departures prior to heading back into the office full-time. So after you get your dog settled on a suitable day to practice, leave the house as you would for work. Maybe even take your briefcase or lunch box if that is the usual way you depart. If you leave in your car on a typical work day, then you must drive away during this “practice” run. However, only be gone a short time (5-15 minutes); perhaps a quick run to the pharmacy or grocery store. When you return, greet your dog quietly and put your things away. When you are settled in, spend some time together. Perhaps a short play session or even a short walk.

Over the coming days, vary the time of day you leave the house and the length of time you are gone. This will hopefully begin to prepare your dog for longer departures. In some instances, you may want to set up a device to videotape your dog; paying special attention for any signs of anxiety, including panting or pacing when you leave, barking or whining, or destruction of household objects. If you see any of these signs prior to heading back to work, please call your veterinarian to schedule an appointment as soon as possible. And be sure to share the videotape with them.

About the Author

Dr. Debra F. Horwitz
  • Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists
  • 2012 recipient of the Veterinarian of the Year
  • NAVC 2012 and NAVC 2014 Small Animal Speaker of the Year

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