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I adopted my first dog as an adult in 2015. By 2017, I had three dogs. In 2022, I returned to working two days a week in the office.
My returning to office work two days a week was a drastic change for all of us. Realistically, the dogs had each other for companionship, so that was less of a concern for my household. There were other areas to address for both of our comfort though.
After a few months, we had a good system in place, and a few investments made this transition a little easier on all of us.
First was the installation of a home security camera inside the house. During the day, I could tell myself that the dogs were probably fine and there weren’t many ways for anything bad to be happening to them, but subtle anxiety continued to knock at the back of my mind. This was worse on particularly long and tiring days.
Much of that anxiety was resolved by investing in an indoor Ring camera and placing it high up so that I got a broad view of the area of the house where the dogs spent their time when I wasn’t at home. At any point of the day, I could open the app and take a quick reassuring peek at my fuzzy companions. Confident that everyone was safe and sound, I could continue to focus on my work.
Not everyone is comfortable with indoor cameras and while I’m less concerned than some, I still do have some practical reservations. While the camera itself does not have a built-in on and off switch, this is easily remedied by plugging it into a smart outlet. I can then control turning the outlet on and off as needed.
Thanks to the routine feature in Alexa, I could add turning on and off the camera through the smart plug as part of my goodbye and hello routines. Using routines in Alexa would also allow me to control multiple cameras with a single trigger or a push of a button in the app.
The other hesitation that I had about using an indoor security camera was the installation. The camera had to be mounted high to provide a good view of the household pets, but I also wanted the flexibility of being able to move the camera until I found the optimal position, or easily change it if I were to move around the animal beds and their day quarters. In short, I didn’t want to have to drill anything into the ceiling.
I tried out a few easy installation methods and this one was my favorite.
After using the setup for several months, I couldn’t imagine an office day without this reasurance.
Automatic Dog Feeders and Water Fountain Dishes
The next major investment I made towards working part-time in an office outside of the house was automatic dog feeder bowls. I had always fed the dogs multiple times a day while I was at home. It was a routine that we all enjoyed but for practical reasons, it was no longer viable on office days. Between commuting and other factors, I would sometimes be away from home for thirteen hours. It was frustrating knowing that my dogs were waiting for me to return to feed them.
Free feeding was not an option for them, so after researching various auto feeders, I invested in this one for each dog.
Since the water dishes are ceramic, I also placed a silicone mat underneath them to protect them against the tile.
For some, a doggy door is simply not an option. I’m one of those people. But realistically, I cannot expect my dogs to wait thirteen or more hours to be let outside. Cecil will certainly try but the girls are less ambitious about this and some days we are not successful at all.
Instead of creating extra stress for all of us, I utilized reusable puppy pads which gave the dogs a designated area and made clean up and sanitation simple. I was already familiar with reusable puppy pads due to living with an extremely anxious dog, and I have written about how to care for reusable puppy pads. They sound more off-putting than they are but they also smell better than lining the floor with newspaper or the inevitable accidents that will happen anyway.
I am not a personal fan of crating for long periods of time, though I do understand crating is sometimes the only safe option. However, I prefer when possible for my dogs to have a confined but non-crated area which gives them more freedom when full run of the house is not realistic.
To create a confined space, I utilize a baby gate.
I do suggest investing in wall protectors. Most gates, over time, may damage the paint on the walls. These buffers do a great job at preventing that from happening.
If they’re not sufficient for your needs, here is a large gate that we also love.
My dogs already had their own beds but for those who normally lounge on the couch but may not have access to it when you are not home, it is important to invest in a comfortable dog bed. A comfortable dog bed is not necessarily an expensive one, though. In the past, I have spent a small fortune on dog beds with faux fur covers and memory foam mattresses only to find it to be used as a stuffed toy to gut.
The dogs have long shown a strong preference for a different style of bed which I had bought on impulse during an Amazon Prime Day sale. I had left that bed in the box for many months, regretting that I had purchased such an unnecessary item. As it turned out, when I finally set up the bed for them, they were delighted with it. That bed quickly became not just the preferred bed but the only used dog bed in the house out of several options available.
Dog Toys and Treats
Technically, you’re not supposed to leave dogs with chew toys or stuffed animals while not supervised. However, this article is about what I actually did, so while I agree with the sentiment overall, I have found a couple of toy options that have proven to be safe for my dogs which I continue to let them have when I am not home. That said, I do routinely check all of their chew toys and remove anything that might be dangerous or damaged in some way.
They absolutely love the Chew and Chew antlers and I find these stave off chewing of inappropriate items. Since those have become difficult to find, here is one from Amazon’s pet brand, Wag.
The last item on the list, a treat dispenser, I never did invest in. This wouldn’t have worked with Mei Mei, who is adept at commandeering treats when the dogs are left to their own devices. For single dog households or less competitive households, this could be a great fun option for both the dog and human.
Time for Home
Lastly, I keep a leash and harness nearby. That way before I leave for work or when I get home, we can go for a little walk and enjoy our time together.