Office embargo: 40% of new dog owners completely avoiding office
As a new study also reveals that half of new dog owners are spending less time in the office to stay with their pet, employees are being urged to balance both dog-caring duties and working in the office.
Of the estimated 12 million pet dogs in the UK, around 3.2 million were brought to their new homes as puppies during the pandemic. But as employees are being encouraged to return to their usual workplaces, how are new dog owners coping with the need to balance both office working and caring for their dog during the day?
A new survey, carried out by the pet experts at YuMOVE, revealed that 78% of ‘pandemic pups’ have shown physical signs of separation anxiety since their owners began returning to the office. This has had a clear impact on how often employees visit the workplace, with 48% of new dog owners reducing the amount of time they spend working away from home.
Before the pandemic, 16% of owners felt comfortable enough to leave their dog alone for over six hours a day, whereas now only 3% would — a huge decrease of 80%. Although many of us felt frustrated with the need to turn our homes into a makeshift office, it appears that those with new dogs feel increasingly unable to return to their usual place of work.
With the number of remote-working vacancies falling, it’s clear that employers are keen for a return to the workplace. However, balancing pet care with commitments outside the household is new territory for many new dog owners. Both employers and dog owners are being urged to adapt and compromise to reach a solution that works for everyone.
How are employees reacting to balancing dog and work responsibilities?
The RSPCA recently warned of a ‘major welfare crisis’, as many new owners feel unable to care for their dogs post-lockdown. A worryingly high figure of 48% of new owners revealed they are unhappy with the decision they made to bring home a dog.
Although lockdown may have seemed like the perfect time to bond with a canine companion, one in eight owners now frequently wonder if getting a dog was the right decision. Perhaps even more concerning is the fact that, in hindsight, one in five owners felt they weren't prepared for the responsibility that comes with owning a dog.
What can employers do to encourage new dog owners to come to the workplace?
One idea raised to help ease employees’ concerns, is to find ways to welcome dogs into offices. Pets at Home recently released a set of guidelines to support those businesses making the move to embrace pets at work, which can have a range of benefits, such as improving mental health and boosting morale. Guidelines include having beds close to the pet owner’s desk, ensuring regular exercise is given, keeping all dogs away from kitchen areas and making sure they are kept off any lounge furniture.
However, it’s not always possible to bring dogs into every workplace. For this reason, the experts at YuMOVE have put together some top tips on preparing dogs to be alone while their owner goes into the office.
Top tips to prepare a dog for being alone
For employees to feel more confident about their return to the usual working environment, there are a number of things you can do to help slowly ease dogs into this new routine.
If you’re working from home, encourage your dog to settle while you’re busy, and then provide stimulation during your breaks.
Plan time apart. Start small, such as a quick walk to the shops or even sitting in a separate room, but be sure to reward your dog afterwards to keep them feeling positive.
Create a safe space for your dog to use when you’re not around. Make sure they feel both secure and happy by providing baskets, blankets, chew toys and puzzle feeders.
Begin to introduce a back-to-work routine by ensuring playtime, exercise and meals are provided at regular times.
Try not to keep your dog by your side throughout the whole day. Allow them access to different rooms where they can be alone and entertain themselves.