Tips & Tricks

How to Keep Your Dog Happy When Your Schedule Changes

medium shot smiley woman dog couch

Life can be unpredictable. Whether it’s starting a new job, adjusting to the kids going back to school, or going through a major life transition like a divorce, changes to your daily routine are inevitable. And while adapting to a new schedule can be frustrating for us humans, it can be even tougher on our four-legged friends.

You see, dogs thrive on routine. They’re used to you leaving at the same time each morning, coming home at the same time each evening, and feeding them at regular intervals throughout the day. So when sudden changes disrupt that familiar routine, it can really throw your pup for a loop, leaving them feeling stressed, anxious, or withdrawn.

But don’t worry – with a little patience, planning, and TLC, you can help your dog smoothly adjust to your new schedule. Here are 6 tips to make the transition easier on both of you:

1. Start Slow and Steady

If you know a big schedule change is on the horizon, like the kids heading back to school after summer break or you starting a new job in a few weeks, it helps to ease your dog into it gradually if you can.

For example, if you’ll be gone for longer stretches during the day, start by leaving the house for just a couple hours at first, then slowly increase the duration you’re away. If you’ll be shifting their mealtimes or walks, adjust them by 15-30 minute increments each day. These incremental changes are small enough not to alarm your pup, but over the course of days or weeks, they’ll gently acclimate them to the new routine.

border collie dog training with owner

2. Wear Them Out With Exercise

A tired dog is generrally a content dog. And a content dog is much less likely to get bored and take out their frustration on your furniture while you’re gone!

To help burn off that excess energy, give your dog longer or more frequent walks and extra playtime, especially right before you have to head out for the day. If you’ll be absent for extended periods, consider arranging for a friend or dog walker to take them out. The physical activity and companionship will do wonders for keeping your pup calm and content.

cute mixed breed dog playing with washable snuffle rug hiding dried treats nose work intellectual games with pet

3. Keep Them Mentally Stimulated

While chew toys and balls are great, they’ll only keep your dog entertained for so long when they’re home alone. To really engage their brain and prevent boredom, try leaving out some puzzle toys instead.

Puzzle toys, especially ones that dispense treats or food, are much more mentally stimulating for dogs. They’ll keep your pup happily occupied and distracted, making them less likely to get into trouble while you’re away. Plus, the rewards-based mental enrichment is great for reducing stress and anxiety too.

4. Create a Comfy, Secure Space

For some dogs, having the run of the house when no one is home is a recipe for destructive behaviour. If your pup tends to get into mischief when left to their own devices, it may help to crate train them or limit their access to certain rooms or areas using baby gates or playpens.

The key is to make their designated space feel safe and den-like, with comfy bedding, favourite toys, and, ideally, a view outside so they don’t feel too closed in. Being able to see their surroundings can be calming for many dogs and preferable to being shut away alone in a room.

puppy crate trainning

5. Try Some Mellow Music

Just like classical music can be soothing for us, it turns out it has a calming effect on dogs, too. Try leaving some Beethoven or Mozart playing softly in the background, or check your streaming app for playlists designed specifically for doggy listeners.

Some pups also feel comforted by the familiar sounds of a TV playing at low volume. You may need to experiment a bit to see what audio vibes help your dog relax and feel secure.

close up worker dog home

6. Consider Anti-Anxiety Aids

If your pet suffers from separation anxiety, being alone for long periods may cause them to whine excessively, have accidents in the house, or display other anxious behaviours. In these cases, it’s worth exploring some anti-anxiety aids with guidance from your vet.

Compression wraps like Thundershirts provide gentle, constant pressure that can feel like a calming hug for your dog. Pheromone diffuser plugins mimic the natural, comforting scent of a nursing mother dog. In severe cases, your vet may suggest anti-anxiety medication to assist your dog in managing their anxiety.

vet checkups

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What should I do if my dog starts having accidents in the house after a schedule change?

If your dog starts having accidents in the house, resist the urge to punish them after the fact. Instead, focus on preventative measures like crate training, as dogs naturally avoid soiling their sleeping area. For puppies or senior dogs with less bladder control, you can also try placing pee pads near the door. Positive reinforcement and consistency are key to getting your dog back on track.

2. How can I tell if my dog has separation anxiety, and what should I do about it?

Look out for these signs your dog might have separation anxiety: nonstop barking, whining, or howling; destructive chewing or scratching; or even attempts to escape from home or the yard.

If you notice any of these behaviours, it’s best to reach out to your veterinarian or a qualified animal behaviorist right away. They can help you create a customized plan to alleviate your dog’s anxiety, which may include anti-anxiety medication, calming aids like pheromone diffusers, and even training techniques to boost your dog’s confidence and independence.

Final Words

Even with the best preparation, schedule changes can still lead to some unwanted behaviours at first.

The most important thing is to stay patient, positive, and loving throughout the transition. Remember, your dog takes their cues from you, so the more calm and confident you are, the more secure they’ll feel.

old person with their beagles dog

The Loobani Pet Blog is all about helping pet parents enhance their pups’ health. To learn more about our top-notch dog puzzle toys, visit loobanipet.com. Our clever designs make snack time fun and enriching, giving dogs the mental and physical exercise they need. We strive to provide plenty of enrichment for our furry friends so they can enjoy their healthiest, happiest lives.

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About Zelda D.Nelson

As a lifelong dog lover and proud mom to two energetic rescue pups, I know firsthand how important puzzle toys are for providing dogs with much-needed mental and physical stimulation. After over a decade of experience raising well-adjusted, happy dogs, I joined the Loobani Pet team to help other pet parents discover the joy and benefits of dog puzzles. Through my work at Loobani Pet, I've become an expert on the ins and outs of various interactive dog toys. My goal is to simplify the selection process so you can easily pinpoint the perfect puzzles to match your pup's needs and lifestyle. Whether you need a toy to challenge your brainy breed, keep your power chewer occupied, or simply provide some rainy day fun, I've got you covered.