Going Back to Work and Leaving Your Dog at Home after Covid

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For many people, Covid-19 has meant spending more time at home, whether by choice or not.  According to various sources, almost one-fifth of American homes have gotten a new dog during the pandemic. How are those homes and their dogs going to fare when our lives return to “normal”?

Dogs in demand during Covid

With so many people being forced to stay home in 2020 and 2021, dogs were in great demand. Some shelters had difficulty supplying enough dogs to everyone that wanted one https://www.dvm360.com/view/the-covid-19-pet-adoption-boom-did-it-really-happen-. The AKC reported a surge in registrations for purebred dogs.

These were great years to bring a new pet into the home, after all. For someone spending a lot of time at home, there would be time to bond with a new dog as well as work on training. Plus, a dog could provide companionship when it was difficult to see other people.

However, as people return to work outside the home, what issues will they face with these dogs that have spent most days with their humans?

Duke University Video on How Our Dogs Will Respond as We Return to Work…

Waiting lists for services for animals 

According to the Washington Post, many vet offices have been overwhelmed. It can take a long time to get an appointment to see a vet with your dog in some places due to the high demand. 

If you’re going back to work outside the home and you’re looking for a good dog walker or daycare for your dog, you may also find yourself on a waiting list. Prices have also likely increased since 2018.

Some dogs and their owners will, no doubt, find it difficult to cope with separation anxiety when they are apart during working hours. Separation anxiety is different from a dog that is bored or lonely. Dogs with this condition can be helped but you may need to work with an animal behaviorist and/or your veterinarian if you can’t overcome the issue on your own.

How to help your dog if you are going back to work 

If you are going back to work and you want to help prepare your dog for the transition, there are some things you can do to make things better.


The more you start to get out with your dog and socialize him, the better. Socialization is something that every breeder recommends for a puppy. It helps puppies develop self-confidence. It also lessens fear over ordinary, everyday things that dogs encounter.

Granted, some dogs adopted or purchased during Covid could now be two years old (or more) but working on socialization is always a good idea.

Get your dog out of the house. Go for a walk. Meet friendly strangers (with your dog on a leash). Meet people with and without masks. Your dog has to start meeting people without masks sometime. Meet polite children (with your dog on a leash). Meet other friendly dogs (with both dogs on a leash).

Take your dog to pet stores, Home Depot, and other stores that allow well-behaved dogs on a leash.

The more places you take your dog so he can have new experiences and meet new people, the better. It will all help build his confidence. Increased confidence will help your dog when you aren’t with him.

Toys and treats

When your dog is home alone, provide him with plenty of toys and treats. Toys and treats can help your dog pass the time if he is lonely or bored. Buy some interactive toys that require your dog to work to find a treat. Puzzle boxes, Kongs, and treat balls can all be good choices. Figure out what your dog enjoys and fill them with treats to keep him busy while you’re out of the house.


Some people like to use dog TV or soothing music for their dogs while they are out of the house. A dog’s reaction to this kind of media usually depends on the dog. If your dog responds to it, go ahead and use it.

Dog walkers and daycare centers

Some owners will want to consider dog walkers to come in and take their dogs for a walk during the day. Or, you might think about a daycare center for your dog. However, as mentioned earlier, both of these services are in high demand right now. You might be placed on a waiting list, depending on where you live.

Calming pheromones

Some shelters and owners like to use calming pheromones from a diffuser for dogs. Different species give off pheromones that are unique to their own species. So, you won’t be able to detect dog pheromones but your dog will.

The pheromones used to calm dogs are called DAP or dog appearing pheromones. They are synthetic but they mimic the same pheromones given off by a nursing mother dog to soothe her puppies. They do seem to help anxious dogs.

Have a schedule

One of the best things you can do for your dog is to have a schedule. Yes, it’s great to lounge around at home and snuggle with your dog all day but if you are going to be working outside the home, help your dog get used to your new schedule. That way he won’t be freaked out when you suddenly walk out the door one morning! 

Let your dog get used to your comings and goings without anything terrible happening. Start getting ready in the morning, even if you aren’t leaving yet. Begin to go outside and start your vehicle. Drive away for a short time and return. Get your dog used to the signs of your departure.

Don’t make a big scene when you leave the house or act like it’s the end of the world. If you break down in tears when you leave the house, your dog will certainly be upset! Treat your dog like a big boy or girl and they should be fine.

Go ahead and hug your dog when you come home. We know that you missed him, too.


Covid-19 has been hard on all of us. The bright side of this virus is that many people have found their new canine companions. Now some people just have to get used to being without them part of the day as they return to work. You and your dog can get through this by following these tips.

If you are one of the lucky people who can work at home and have your dogs with you all day, count your blessings.

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Carlotta Cooper

Author & Pet Expert

Carlotta Cooper is a vice president of the Sportsmen’s and Animal Owners’ Voting Alliance (SAOVA) and an AKC Legislative Liaison. She writes for multiple pet blogs and she’s a breed columnist for the AKC Gazette. She’s also a contributing editor for the weekly dog show magazine Dog News. She is the author of several books about dogs and other animals.

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