You can tell how dog-friendly a city is by whether you’re allowed to take your dog on public transport. For example, in Los Angeles and New York, you can take your dog with you if it’s in a pet carrier (and a shout out to the New Yorkers who got creative with this rule).
But in Stockholm, you can just take your dog on any train, for free, as long as they’re on a leash (wow, Sweden, you gave us IKEA, H&M, ABBA, and you love dogs too?).
You might take the subway to work each day, and as you ride to the office you probably think about how great it would be if your dog could come with you (and maybe they can, but more about that later), but you might also worry about leaving your dog home alone all day while you’re working.
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A Schedule Means Structure for Your Dog
By coming up with the best schedule for your dog, you create a structure for them, and this structure allows them to stay calm and confident when they’re by themselves during the day.
It’s really not that difficult, and when you know that your dog is doing well, then you’re doing well too.
When you plan the best schedule for your dog, you also need to factor in other people. Maybe you have a husband or wife, a boyfriend or girlfriend, children, or a roommate who are going to be home some of the time, or who will at least get home before you do.
But even if your dog is alone all day while you’re at work, it’s definitely possible for them to be calm and confident until you get home at the end of the day.
A Good Schedule for Your Dog
The average commute time to work in the U.S.A. is 26.6 minutes, so let’s look at a schedule for if you have to start work at 9am, allowing for about thirty minutes for you to get there. You might need to change a few things depending on your personal circumstances.
Get up, let your dog into the backyard so they can pee. You might want to have your own breakfast now.
Take your dog for a brisk walk, or even a jog. The trick is to make them tired so that they’ll happily spend the day taking a long nap (or two, or three). Exercising first thing in the morning isn’t just good for your dog. It’s actually great for your metabolism and energy levels.
Get home, and use this time to take a shower and get ready for work.
Feed your dog, so their attention is with their food when you leave, which helps to combat any immediate separation anxiety. Leave for work.
During the Day
This is the crunch time, the time that you’re probably going to be the most worried about. So let’s deal with those worries.
- Consider confining your dog to a certain section of your home (like the living room), where they can snooze, have access to water, and a treat-dispensing toy.
- Use video technology to keep an eye on your dog (but we’ll talk about that in a moment).
- Give your neighbor your cell phone number, and/or your direct phone number at work. Dogs can repeatedly bark during the day when they’re distressed, and it helps if you know about it so you can give your dog extra training to overcome the problem.
Arrive home, give your dog plenty of attention, which doesn’t need to be high-energy. Just sit with your dog as you open your mail or whatever, and it’s really just about one-on-one time.
Sit outside with them in the backyard, and play a game if the weather is warm. This also allows them to sniff around, roll in the grass, and go to the toilet.
Have your dinner, and then feed your dog their evening meal. Two smaller meals per day is often a good bet for dogs, but check with your vet if you’re unsure.
Evening walk time! This doesn’t need to be as brisk and energetic as your morning walk, and it’s as much about stimulating your dog as it is about exercise.
Dogs are easy to please, and they’re going to be oh-so-satisfied to just chill with you on the sofa as you binge watch your way through whatever’s in your Netflix queue.
The takeaway is to spend as much time in your dog’s company before and after work to make up for the nine hours or so that they’re alone.
At Work with Your Dog
Sure, this schedule might be a little different for you, since someone might come home earlier, and can give your dog attention and bring that evening walk forward by a few hours. But hey, wouldn’t it be great if your dog could just join you at the office?
Taking Your Dog to Work
If your workplace ever has one of those bring your child to work days, you should claim discrimination, because your dog is your child too!
But seriously, bringing your dog to work can be the perfect way to make sure they’re not alone during the day, if it’s possible. There are a few points that you need to think about:
- Does your office’s liability insurance cover the presence of a dog in the workplace? This can cover a wide variety of things that might happen, from your dog accidentally causing damage to something in the office, to your dog injuring a co-worker or a member of the public.
- What happens if your dog is injured in the workplace? If you have pet insurance, is your dog still covered when the injury happens in a private place of business?
- Is anyone in your workplace allergic to dogs or afraid of them to the point that they can’t be around them? This one will almost certainly be a dealbreaker.
- If your office is rented instead of being owned by your company, will the landlord allow dogs?
Sometimes it’s just not possible to bring a dog to a workplace, and a lot of it depends on the workplace. Dogs can obviously be a recipe for disaster in a factory, or anywhere food is prepared, so your line of work might be definitively dog unfriendly.
But you’ll never know if you don’t ask your manager about it.
If your boss really isn’t sure about your idea, you can suggest that your office takes part in National Take Your Dog to Work Day, just as a trial run. Make sure your four-legged pride and joy is on their best behavior, and then every day could be Take Your Dog to Work Day!
Ask About Working from Home (Even If Not Everyday)
It might even be an option to work from home on some days, and to make this a regular thing. A lot of companies across a lot of industries allow it, and maybe yours does too, even if you don’t know about it.
This allows you to hang with your dog while you work. For example, you can go to the backyard to throw the ball for your pooch on your breaks. This is going to make you a happier and more productive employee than being in the office, arguing with Karen from human resources about who messed up the vacation pay spreadsheets.
Again, you won’t know if you don’t ask, so ask! Whether you take your pooch into work with you or work from home with your dog sitting by your side, this allows your dog to be a part of your working life.
Your request to take your dog to work or work from home on some days might not go the way you hoped. Even with a firm structure to your dog’s day while you’re at the office, you should ensure that your pup is coping, especially if they have previously shown signs of separation anxiety.
Checking on Your Dog While You’re at Work
When your perfectly precious pooch has to be left home alone, it doesn’t mean that you can’t check in on them.
You wouldn’t leave human children at home alone without calling to see how they’re doing, would you?
Unless your dog is capable of answering the telephone (and if they are, you can maybe quit your job, make your dog a YouTube star, and become rich), you need to have the necessary gear to remotely see what your dog is up to, and maybe even to say hello.
There are a whole bunch of different video systems that let you look in on your pooch when you’re not at home.
There are systems with motion-activated sensors that only record your dog when they’re active. There are systems that let you talk to your dog to tell them that they’re a good boy, systems that allow you to dispense a treat.
And then there’s just a plain old remote-activated webcam set up in the room. By taking a peek at what your dog gets up to during the day, you can spot signs of anxiety and boredom, and can take the required steps to fix this (like specialist training).
Doggy Day Care
The answer might be just around the corner, and there could be a doggy day care center in your neighborhood, or near your office. Just drop Fido off in the morning, they can spend the day playing with their new besties (great for socializing your dog, by the way).
There might also be a dog sitter who can host your dog in their home while you’re at work. Make sure they’re accredited (so go through an agency if possible), and that they have the necessary liability insurance.
Your dog’s happiness is linked to your happiness, and you’re never going to be relaxed knowing that your dog isn’t coping while you’re away.
But there are so many ways to help them cope, and if all else fails, why not get another dog to keep them company? Actually, yes, any excuse for another dog, right?