Take your time. Pre-planning is important. Make sure you’re building their resilience slowly and independently away from you.
Create serotonin and dopamine (happy hormones) releasing activities. Puzzle games and nose work activities are good to do whilst you’re still at home as they aren’t relying on YOU for all their happy hormone release and then of course they’re also good techniques whilst you’re away.
If your dog doesn’t cope well with separation, you will want to start very slowly and only go away for very short periods of time. When you leave and return make sure you do it calmly. We don’t want your pets having their biggest surges of serotonin/dopamine release when you return from work.
Doggy Day care. If you need to return to work unexpectedly or you’re concerned about how your pet will cope, utilising doggy day-care services can be a great way to break up the week.
Often employing a dog walker is enough to offer routine and peace of mind during a working day.
Keep a good and consistent routine
Walk and feed at the same time each day. Recognise that all the small behaviours around these activities are noticed by your pet (e.g. Tying up a shoelace, making a coffee, brushing your teeth).
Don’t make a big deal when returning to/from work.
Supplements and natural support
If you feel your dog demonstrates anxious or stress related behaviour, calming supplements can really help as well as using our natural stress serums and sprays, Soothe + Calm. Look for supplements that support stress (often B vitamins, tryptophan, chamomile, hemp seed oil) or if making anxiety claims make sure they’re backed by science – they should be registered with the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority as this is a therapeutic claim.
A good diet is very important. There’s some excellent probiotics that provide a bacterial strain that has evidence in reducing anxiety.
We recommend using our Soothe + Calm serum morning and night for two weeks before returning to work and our sprays during the day during stressful periods of life. They’re great to use 10mins before leaving for work but don’t only use them at this time as your pet will associate the product with you leaving.
How to tell if your pet is stressed when left alone
An easy rule of thumb is to know that stress behaviour crosses into anxiety is when you notice the behaviour persisting when the stressor is removed. I.e. Does your dog remain anxious when you return from work? An example of this would be a dog that won’t eat or drink when you’re out of the house. Upon return they will enjoy their food and water, so this is a separation stress related behaviour rather than anxiety. If your dog pants continually for 10mins after you get home and starts panting and whining when they notice you’re getting ready to go this is an example of anxiety. Stress related behaviours can often be managed with training, natural supplements, and consistent routine. Anxiety will, on the other hand, often need prescription medication in addition to the other measures to help manage.
It’s also important to check in with yourself – are you feeling anxious as well? Emotional contagion is a real thing! Dogs will pass on their emotions to you and vice versa.
Visit a Holistic vet to help with anxiety
Visiting a holistic vet is a great idea if you’re concerned your pet may have anxiety so you can create a well-rounded strategy to tackle the emotional stress around going back to work. There is no “ONE” magic solution. It’s a matter of equipping your toolkit with the tools you need to support both of you going back to work, but it’s great to know there are so many natural options available.