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Routine Reset: Reducing your dog's anxiety when you return to the office

Going back to work can be a tough transition for you, and your pets. Here's how you can help your furry friends adjust

CLEVELAND — Sweet Sadie. She’s my dog, such a good girl. She suffers from a bit of anxiety but we give her all the cuddles in the world. 

I’m not one of the many who’s been working from home, but I wonder, what would happen if I did? How would she re-adjust? So we went to an expert - Chris Ramsay, K-9 Specialist and Owner of Shaker Hound Academy – to help pet owners, perhaps like you.

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Credit: Laura Caso
Laura Caso and her dog Sadie.

"Going back to work is a difficult transition because now we’ve had a couple months to settle in and dogs are like…cool you are home," Ramsay said.

His first piece of advice - start transitioning slowly. Most dogs have trouble with an abrupt transition. It starts with you leaving the house for work.

"If I grab my keys and throw food at the dog, and I grab my jacket and throw food at the dog, and I grab my work bag and throw food at the dog over and over …it’s very Pavlovian," he explained. "Eventually the dog is like, this is cool I love when you get your jacket on!"

Ramsay also suggests practicing by leaving a room or the house for 30 seconds. Come back, greet the dog calmly and repeat. And then introduce the car. Drive around the block, come back calmly and repeat.

"[With repetition,] you change how that dog feels about any given activity."

Also, don't forget to leave your best bud entertained. Ramsay suggests turning on the news – WKYC is a great choice, of course!

"The volume is not to drown out everything else, the volume is just loud enough to hear people talking," Ramsay advised.

And speaking of entertainment, be sure play with your dog when you are home, so they play when you are away.

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"When we are active and playing [with toys like this rope], there is a good chance that during the day one of my dogs is going to grab this... and start shredding it, which is super productive for a K-9.

"Toys that challenge your dog to get treats or food – are great," Ramsay added. 

There are even board games for dogs that challenge them while having fun.

So before you head back to the office, try out some of Ramsay's suggestions. Because much like our sweet Sadie, pets don’t love change, but we do know, they sure do love their humans.

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Editor's note: the video in the player below is from a story published on March 23, 2021.