Over the last eighteen months, our lives have been upended in more ways than one. And whilst the world returns back to a semblance of normality, we may find ourselves at loss with what to do with our pets. With a whole generation of puppies that are not used to being left alone, we may expect to see an increased need for pet sitting services across the board. 

It is important that as we start to go back to ordinary working life, we introduce these changes gradually to our pets. In order to reduce our dog’s anxiety around being separated from us for an extended period of time, we need to ensure that these new experiences of routine alterations, or being left alone, are positive. 

Whether you’ve acquired a puppy during the pandemic, or your dog simply isn’t used to being left alone, there are a variety of services available that cater to looking after your dog when you return back to work. These include dog daycare centres, dog walkers that will come in once or twice in the day to walk your dog for you, and pet sitters that will look after your dog one-to-one. 

Pet-sitter for dogs 

A dog-sitter that looks after your pet privately may be a suitable choice if your dog is nervous, doesn’t particularly enjoy being very social with other dogs, or has more specific requirements with behaviour, diet or health that requires more time. These services may include your dog being looked after at your home, or their home. 

There are many different services that have dedicated pet sitters available, or there are some that can be contacted directly. When searching, it is important to ensure that the dog-sitter is insured. Arranging a meet-and-greet before agreeing to the service of a sitter is recommended. This is to ensure that everybody feels comfortable and happy. 

Daycare for dogs 

‘Doggy daycares’ have become popular in recent years, and dogs that are social, adaptive and healthy tend to do well. It is best explained as a short-term boarding service for dogs. It can be customised to the owner’s hours, with the focus being on play, exercise and activity, rather than simply ‘accommodation’ like a boarding kennel. 

A good daycare will take into consideration what dogs will fit in with an existing playgroup. Some temperaments may not thrive in this setting. It is not fair to the dog to expect them to tolerate it, as it can compromise their emotional wellbeing and safety. So private pet sitting may be an option that’s far more beneficial for them. 

Ordinarily, there will be a dedicated facility with specially designed equipment to provide the service, with multiple dogs present at once. A well-run doggy daycare is a good option to consider for your pet. 

Dog walkers 

A dog walker is another option for combating the long work days. Breaking up the day for your dog by taking them out for exercise and a toilet break. If your dog is okay with being left alone for a few hours, then this may be a good option to consider; so that they don’t have a long day of being shut indoors. Dog walkers ordinarily take them out for exercise, often with other dogs. The service you get will depend on the walker themselves. In the UK it is currently not necessary to have a dog walking licence or qualifications. But there are many successful dog walking businesses to choose from. 

Preparing your pet for change 

Dogs can be quite sensitive to a sudden change in routine. So it is important to break down these changes into smaller steps over a period of time; rather than introducing them all at once. Regardless of the option chosen, it is important to start with minor changes, and build them up as they become adapted to them. 

Create routine 

Starting a routine around your working hours, prior to going back, will be beneficial. Feeding, exercising and toileting them at the time you would do it each morning on a working day will help them with these changes when you do return to your working schedule. 

Leave your pet alone, but start small 

Introducing them to your absence in small increments will help them understand that you will soon be back. Start with ten minutes, and gradually work that up to an hour, then two, before resuming your normal work routine. Whether you decide to get a pet sitter or not, it is still good practice to get your dog used to not being at your side all the time. And doing it slowly so that it doesn’t become a stressful association for them is important. 

Desensitising them to cues of your absence is a good place to start. Perhaps this includes jingling your keys randomly, putting on your shoes to then just walk around the kitchen, or leaving the room for just five minutes. All will help them understand that these cues are not to be feared. 

If separation anxiety is a serious issue for them, then consulting your veterinarian or a behaviourist is recommended. 

Ensure they have adequate exercise 

Excess energy isn’t always a good thing as it can fuel anxiety and boredom. Wearing them out before you leave the house will allow them to spend more time sleeping. And allow them to be more relaxed in the hours they are by themselves. 

Conclusion 

There are many different options for you and your pet. Each dog will differ in what suits them the best. It is important to consider your dog’s temperament, sociability and stress levels when considering your options. However, rest assured that there are plenty of choices available in these strange times when we are all getting used to what ‘normal’ looks like again.

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