If you’re among the many people who have chosen to foster a dog during the recent pandemic, that extra time together while sheltering-in-place has likely provided you and your pet with abundant opportunities to bond, play, and, exercise together. But what happens as states reopen and things return to a more normal (and busier) schedule?
Foster pets can be especially vulnerable to behavioral issues, so how can you smooth the transition for your pet—and what potentially problematic behaviors should you watch for?
Back-to-Work Dog Transition Tips
If you’ve been fostering a dog during quarantine, here are a few tips to help prepare your animal for your return to work.
- Adhere to a regular schedule. By feeding and walking your foster at set times of day, you can help your animal become accustomed to the routine when you return to work.
- Try some practice separations. If your foster is not accustomed to being apart from you for long periods, try some practice runs, where you leave your pet at home for brief periods (start with just 2–3 minutes and work up to 20+). This will reduce the shock for your pet when you return to work.
- Work with a caregiver. Some pets need extra supervision and attention. You may choose to work with a professional dog walker or family caregiver to provide your foster pet with exercise and companionship while you’re at work.
- Don’t slack on training. If you’ve been actively training your foster, don’t stop just because you’re back at work. Continually working with your pet will reinforce good behaviors and should gradually eliminate those that are undesirable.
- Be patient. Some foster pets have suffered abuse and neglect, so it will take time to build trust, as well as to train good house manners.
Watch for these Dog Behavioral Signs
Dogs that have spent a lot of time in the shelter system may have some issues when it comes to rejoining home life. While these may have been manageable (or absent) during quarantine, your return to work could trigger some behavioral issues. Here are a few warning signs:
- Depression. Like humans, dogs enjoy the stimulation that comes with companionship. Suddenly left to entertain themselves, some dogs can become depressed. Symptoms may include listlessness, loss of appetite, and loss of interest in play. Tip: Provide your pet with ample comfort while you’re out. A cozy box lined with your pet’s favorite blanket and filled with toys can help a depressed dog find joy in the day-to-day.
- Separation Anxiety. Some dogs can become anxious or even panicked when left alone. Often this anxiety manifests as destructive behaviors. Anxious dogs have been known to destroy shoes, clothing, furniture, and even molding. Tip: Try some high-tech pet magic by installing home cameras. You can watch what your dog is doing while you’re away, and you can even talk to your pet by broadcasting over your home AI.
- Toileting Issues. Some dogs express anxiety or other emotional problems through toileting fails. Tip: Plan regular walks and exercise for your pet before and after work. You may work with a dog walker or other care provider to check on your pet while you’re out.
Fostering a pet is a wonderful way to give an animal a second chance. But fostering requires time and patience. We hope these tips help you (and your foster) have a smooth transition from quarantine. If you have questions about your foster’s health or behavior, ask your vet. They can recommend useful behavioral modification and training tips you can put into action today!
Cecily Kellogg is a pet lover who definitely has crazy cat lady leanings. Her pets are all shelter rescues, including the dog, who is scared of the cats. She spent eight years working as a Veterinary Technician before becoming a writer. Today she writes all over the web, including here at Figo.
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