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My Dog & I: Back to Work

Welcome back, everyone!! I am really hoping that all of you are in one piece and coping with the “new normal!”

During this time of upheaval, many of you have found interesting and exciting ways to make “lemonade from lemons” and have added new elements to your lives. New projects, new methods of working and some new family members!!

Yes, I am talking about the four-legged kind…

What a great opportunity to raise a puppy. Everyone is home, lots of time to get the routine down and lots of happy energy in the house!

All Family Members are around to get on the same page and the pup will have had lots of company so that it merges into the family, feeling secure and loved.

Unfortunately though, some of us now have to return to the “office” and things must change again…So I thought I might offer some advice for doing that in a way that would not traumatize everyone!!

Of course, we know that suddenly leaving even an older pup (or new addition) alone for the first time in his experience with you would not be fair…

He has a view of his world that includes lots of nice walks, someone to let him out to use the bathroom and plenty of attention, so if we are going to change this, the nicest way would be to do it s l o w l y…

  If your puppy is still not housetrained to hold his bladder for several hours while unattended, you may want to use your crate a little more while you are still at home so that he does not associate it with being left alone. Put him in when you are having dinner or using your computer so that he does not feel that it is a bad thing.

  Practice leaving him in the kitchen while you go outside to garden for a half hour to start.

  Begin to slowly change the time of his morning and evening walk so that it moves closer to the times you would be going and coming.

  Start to give him a nice soup bone or chew toy when you want him to soothe himself while you do something else.

  Start to reduce “cuddle time” so that he is not dependent on you for comfort.

  Cut down on the verbal communication and increase the focused activity…tricks, skills etc.

  Begin to shape his activities to certain times of the day, establishing a “routine” (The New Normal) that he will be familiar with. This will be an important touchstone for him in his life. Dogs will wait for long periods of time, if they know what they are waiting for.

  Start to plan who will be doing what chores and choose the right person for the job. (Remembering whose idea it was to get a new dog) Expecting a nine year old to be responsible for an adequate walk is not realistic.

  Expect a hiccup or two…change is hard for everyone!

  Try not to overcompensate for your absence by lavishing attention on your puppy before you leave or when you return…Guilt is an unstable energy and will only confuse your dog.

  MAKE SURE your new pup can get outside regularly to go to the bathroom and don’t leave him with a full bowl of water and nowhere to pee…

I think the most important piece of advice I can give you is that your change in routine must be carefully planned as your pup will not understand when you explain to him that “Mom has to go back to work now” So start to shape your new routine before you have to begin it and then you will not have as many issues to deal with.

I get a great many calls these day about dogs with so-called “separation anxiety”. These dogs are dogs who were never taught how to be alone and trust that their owners would return… You do have to slowly build this trust over time and trying to short cut the process will leave you all with an unsatisfactory conclusion.

Do feel free to read this article aloud to the whole family so that everyone understands why we are starting the process before everything changes AGAIN!!

So congratulations on all you New Puppy Owners and also folks who were kind enough to bring home a shelter dog.

I wish you all an easy transition and a great life with your new family members…they certainly got a fantastic start!!

– Janine Lazarus, Hashtag Lewisburg City Paper #125. August 2020. Follow Janine at

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