We all know "the look." When your pet looks up at you sadly when you have to leave for work. It's like they're trying to say "don't leave me, Mom/Dad."
I know the look all too well as I get it from both my pups when I don't follow my own tips 😔.
Here are some fun ways to make leaving not so hard on your furbabies.
Ways to Overcome Pet Parent Guilt When You Go to Work
Take your dog for a long walk before you leave. That way, she'll be tired out by the time you go and won't get as worked up about it. Plus it's a healthy and great way to start the day and bond with your BFF.
Dogs are smart and they know what actions you take before you leave. Desensitize your dogs to you leaving by teaching them that when you grab the keys or put your shoes on, it doesn't necessarily mean you are leaving. Try walking around the house in your shoes, or put your keys in your pocket and carry on with your daily activities. When it's finally time to go, you can help them associate you leaving with treat time! Keep a stash of treats by the door, and give them to your pet whenever you have to leave, even if it's just taking the trash out and coming back in. Your dog will start to look forward to you leaving because they know it means a tasty treat!
Try hiding a frozen Kong somewhere in your dog's main living area for him to find. Make sure you've stuffed it with peanut butter, kibble, and/or treats and that it's frozen when you put it out (this will help your pup to enjoy it longer).
Buy a pet camera. Many pet parents tell me how nice it is when they can be sitting at work and take out their phone to see Fluffy is happily snoozing in her bed. It really provides peace of mind in real time. A puppy mama recently showed me how her Furbo works, it's super cool and I want one for my dogs now.
Try a treat puzzle. Hide some treats inside the puzzle and give to your pet when you leave for work (or hide it in the house for them to find). The dog has to work to figure out how to finish the puzzle. I cannot stress enough to people how great this is to engage their mind. Dogs want something to work at and do other than nap all day (although they certainly enjoy that too).
Have plenty of vet-approved chewtoys (something that has some give to it) around your house to keep Fido busy. Chewing is as necessary as breathing to almost every dog, and if you don't give them something appropriate, they'll find something to chew. Hopefully it isn't your couch.
Purchase a timed treat toy. This one was a game changer for my Penny (before we got Charlie). She quickly learned that the toy would ding (at your choice of time increments) and release a treat inside the ball that she would have to work out. She would get so excited knowing it was time to roll it around and have the treat pop out. I felt great knowing the bell would ding during my workday and she would have that to look forward to every so often while I was away. This would be recommended for a one dog household, and not with multi-dog households as they can be resource protective.
Keep comfortable dog beds around your pets' living spaces so you know that they always have a clean and comfortable place to relax and maybe chew a toy. This is especially a good idea if you have a senior pet.
If your dog has a crate or closet they like to nap in, leave the door open so they can go in and out freely. It's best to put a cover or a throw over the crate to make it feel more safe for them. Put a mat or blanket inside to make it more comfortable. Many pets who aren't regularly crated love snoozing in their safe little den. They know it's their space.
Hire a dog walker or pet sitter. The great thing about dog walks is they help break up the monotony of the day for your dog. He gets to go out and smell new scents (great for a healthy canine brain) and even socialize with other dogs he comes across (if desired). New clients often tell me the sole reason they decided to hire us was so someone would just hang out with and be there with their dog so they're not lonely. That is a-okay with us! ;)
Hopefully these tips help you to ease the amount of guilt you feel when you leave your pets at home. Let me know if you try any and how they work, or if you have any tips of your own.