‘Take your dog to work day’ is 25th June 2021. Many workers will be gradually returning to office based working along with the lifting of lockdown measures. A return to office working 5 days a week is predicted to become the standard model within two years, but new working trends may also feature more prominently than we were used to pre-2020.
Pet ownership has risen by 3.2 million households since the beginning of COVID-19 according to The Pet Food Manufacturers Association (PFMA). There are roughly 12 million dogs and 12 million cats living in the United Kingdom, which make up a majority of the total 34 million domestic companion animals living in approximately 17 million households throughout the country today. Roughly 3.2 million households acquired a pet since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with most (59%) new pet owners representing Gen Z and Millennial cohorts (ages 16-34). Pet owners across the UK are calling upon their employers to change their attitudes towards whether they allow yo to take your dog to work, with almost one in ten (8%) owners considering quitting their job if ‘no-dog’ policies are enforced. As a result of some businesses not being ready to accept new fluffy employees, almost half (45%) of Brits will be changing their working hours to spend more time with their dogs. Even one in 10 (10%) say they’ll be working from home full time so they don’t need to leave their pets’ side. However, it seems not all companies are willing to allow this, as a sixth (15%) of dog owners say their employer won’t accommodate working from home. This might be why over a fifth (21%) of dogs will be left alone whilst their pet parents head off to work.
How to Responsibly Leave Your Hound at Home
If you cannot take your dog to work, you should never leave your dog at home alone for more than three to four hours during the day. If you need to leave your dog for longer, you will need someone to take your dog out for a walk, for both exercise and mental stimulation, especially if you would like your upholstery to remain intact. There are lots of professional dog walking services to choose from. Try to get a recommendation, local neighbourhood groups and be a good source of inspiration. Make sure you and your dog meet the walker and that you agree with their pet care taking policies. Whilst some pet parents are happy to book a dog walker or sitter when they return to the office (11%), this doesn’t suit everyone. That’s why it’s important to think ahead of getting a new dog and decide if a canine companion will fit into your life both, in and outside of the workplace. Also consider what type of dog will suit your lifestyle. Some breeds need a lot more exercise and stimulation than others. If you are going to rescue a dog, consider getting an older pet, they tend to rest for longer periods and they are harder for the rescue centres to rehome. Older rescue dogs can often arrive well trained, especially if they once belonged to an older person and the dog has become bereaved.
If you can take your dog to work with you, make sure to create some rules so that your colleagues actually look forward to seeing your dog! Hopefully your dog is trained, especially house trained. Make sure your dog has had a walk including doing their business, before you start your working day. Create clear boundaries for your dog, as well as your co-workers. It can be a good idea to put a bed for them under your desk. This will give your dog access to a safe place, and a place you can leave them to get some rest. Ideally you will have somewhere for a water bowl too, so they will have access to clean water whenever they need a drink.
If you are lucky enough to be allowed to take your dog to work, you should introduce your dog to the staff. Not everyone likes dogs. Especially an overly fragrant furry friend, so make sure yours is regularly bathed and watch out for feeding them foods that make them gassy. Ensure they are well fed and are not going from desk-to-desk begging for food in the lunch hour. Some people are afraid of dogs or simply don’t know how to give a firm command. So introduce your dog to your colleagues and tell them what your dog is allowed to do, ie whether can they give him or her a treat, can they let your dog and tell them what commands to give if your dog is being distracting, for example telling your pooch to “lie down” to send it away perhaps. Remember to do the same for any new members of staff joining the team at a later date.
It’s sad for any owners who cannot take your dog to work. However it’s also common for dogs to suffer from separation distress when you leave them at home, especially after having had your company full time for an extended period. The best way to help them get used to being alone, is to ideally train them in these habits when they are young. Starting by leaving them for only short periods on their own is key to building up the amount of time you leave them. Popping to the supermarket, taking your rubbish out, going for a 5 minute walk on your own are all short activities you can do to help your dog cope with the prospect that you leave, but you always come back. If your dog is going to have to stay alone for a few hours for the first time, perhaps you could set up a webcam to monitor their behaviour. Most smartphones and tablets support apps that turn your device into a makeshift dog monitor. Try to judge if they were stressed, anxious, experiencing fear or frustration. Or were they happy, calm or just sleeping? You’ll need to help your dog cope with being left alone, as it doesn’t come naturally to them and you’ll need to get there gradually and sensitively. It’s important to not let your dog ‘cry it out’ but instead, use good, gradual training and reward good behaviour. Imagine that they need comfort and soothing to get used to their doggy day care, especially if they are new or young. If it’s still not going well, ask for professional help, there’s a wealth of great techniques suitable for almost every dog.
Good Quality Exercise
A good idea is to tire out your dog with exercise before you leave them. Physical exercise is important to dogs, however make sure it’s good quality exercise, or you can end up leaving your dog either frustrated or completely over-stimulated and unable to relax. Make sure they are stimulated both physically and mentally on their walk. This will help them to enjoy their exercise and leave them feeling satisfied and relaxed. Dogs love to sniff, so encourage them to have a snoop around on their walks. This will help to stimulate their brain and keep excitement levels down; so that when they return home they can sleep.
Dogs are intelligent animals and need stimulation, even when you are not there to play with them. There are a host of Brain training and puzzle toys designed for dogs. It’s an easy way to provide stimulation and get their problem solving skills going. Try feeding them some of their meals out of puzzle feeders, but make it easy at first so as not to increase frustration. Provide plenty of safe chew toys. Chewing releases endorphins in your dog’s brain. Too often dogs don’t have enough access to things they are allowed to chew on and they will turn to your upholstery! it’s safe to do so, leave chews and puzzle toys with your dog when you leave, they can really help to occupy them and reduce boredom!
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