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Preventing Separation Anxiety When You Work From Home

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Updated: February 27, 2020

Dog looking at computer


As a dog owner, working from home is the best! You don’t have to worry about finding someone to walk your dog, you have excuses to take breaks throughout the day, and (bonus!) you get to work with the best coworker! But, are you giving your dog enough time alone?


Dog owners who work from home or are retired and home most of the time are faced with dogs who can become used to constant companionship. These dogs can have a tough time being left alone for any time at all, and if the owner’s schedule or lifestyle changes and they are no longer present all of the time, these dogs can have a very tough time adjusting.

If your dog never gets used to spending time alone or learning how to entertain themselves, they can start to develop separation anxiety.

Working from home with a dog

When you first get a puppy or new dog, it can be tempting to make sure that you’re there for them all the time, but doing so can create a dog that follows you around everywhere. When you work from home, there’s always a chance that your dog can become more attached to you than normal, potentially causing separation anxiety.

Rather than learning how to entertain themselves, they turn to you to provide all of their entertainment, which builds their dependence on you.

If you work from home, it’s very important to leave the home for at least a couple hours per day to make sure your dog is able to be left alone without displaying severe signs of stress. Start off in short increments: 15 minutes to a half hour at a time, then increase over time. Leave out a few fun toys – that you just bring out when you leave – signifying you leaving is AWESOME!

A real-life scenario

Mary Berry laying next to desk

I worked from home for almost a year when we decided to get a puppy. We were wanting to add a dog to our family that would keep me company during the day and get us out of the house more. Working from home was the perfect solution to the frequent potty breaks and playtime that many friends had to take time off work for or hire a dog walker.

Once we brought our puppy Mary Berry home, I was there to make sure she had the right amount of care throughout the day. I was a doting new pet parent, and she was the most adorable little desk sidekick. 

Fast forward a couple of weeks, and we learned that Mary Berry had a tough time when we left the house. Even if we just left to take the garbage out, she would sit at the door and cry until we returned. Rather than helping to shape a puppy that liked her independence and time alone, I fostered the behaviors of the Velcro dog.

Now that I no longer work from home, we are constantly working on conditioning Mary Berry to being left alone for periods of time. We have a dog walker who comes at lunchtime to get her out of the house for a potty break, and I am lucky that I get to bring Mary Berry to work a couple days a week.  

Though she’s still a puppy, she displays many behaviors associated with separation anxiety. For that, I highly recommend making sure to leave your puppy on a regular basis, so they can get used to being independent and used to doing things on their own.

canine-separation-anxiety-1

Tips for working from home

Here are some tips for working from home that can help your dog get used to spending time alone:

Work from someplace else: If you work from home, you know that sometimes you need to get out of the house. Try taking your work to the nearest coffee shop, library, co-working space, or even a separate area of your home from where your dog is hanging out – and make sure they don't follow you! This conditions them to spending more time alone.

Use a crate or “puppy zone”: Crate training can really help your dog get used to spending time alone. Try crating your dog for a couple hours while you work from another room. Read all about crate training and how to set up a longer-term puppy zone.

Encourage independent play: Try to encourage your dog to spend time in a room other than you when you’re working from home. An interactive puzzle toy or Kong tethered in place will keep your pup entertained and tire them out at the same time.

Have questions or want to share your story about working from home with your dog? Let us know in the comments below!

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Puppy Zone: How to Set Up a Long-Term Confinement Area
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Everything You Need to Know About Crate Training Your Puppy or Adult Dog
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What to Put (and Not Put) in Your Dog's Crate
Choosing the Best Interactive Food Toys and Puzzles for Your Dog
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101 Dog Behavior and Training Tips Book

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Topics: Behavior & Training, Puppy Training, Puppy, Training, Dog, Anxiety in Dogs, Dog Behavior, Separation Anxiety, new puppy, puppy tips

Please do not ask emergency or other specific medical questions about your pets in the blog comments. As an online informational resource, Preventive Vet is unable to and does not provide specific medical advice or counseling. A thorough physical exam, patient history, and an established veterinary-patient-client relationship is required to provide specific medical advice. If you are worried that your pet is having an emergency or if you have specific medical questions related to your pet’s current or chronic medical conditions, please contact or visit your veterinarian, an animal-specific poison control hotline, or your local emergency veterinary care center.

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