There are currently over 89 million dogs living as pets in the United States - and for good reason. Dogs, long considered to be man’s best friend, are loyal, comforting and are even used as therapy animals for a wide variety of physical and mental health conditions. We, in turn, make sure to feed them the best food, provide them with plenty of fresh air and exercise and spoil them with treats and bellyrubs. However, due to the high emotional intelligence of dogs, there are things we may be unknowingly doing that cause them stress. As dogs love routine, shift work in particular may be confusing to them, causing disturbances in their behavior. If you are working the night shift, implement the following steps to make the process easier on both you and your dog.
Dogs absolutely thrive when there is an established and consistent routine in place. Once they become accustomed to a consistent food and walking routine, they will inherently know when both times are coming up, putting them at ease. The same principle applies to your schedule. If they are used to you being gone between the standard 9-5 work schedule, although, like clockwork, they will be sad when you leave and elated when you return, the consistency of this will give them the comfort they require. So if you are working shift work, it is important to be as consistent as possible with your hours, to avoid leaving your dog confused and stressed from a lack of routine. Of course with any job there will be sick days, vacation time and weekends/days off, but the more consistent you are with the majority of your schedule, the happier your furry companion will be.
Set sleep hours
Shift work will inevitably affect a person’s circadian rhythm, and this change can likely mean less overall sleep for you and your dog. Depending on their activity levels and age, dogs need anywhere from 12 to 14 hours of sleep a day. Disregarding naps taken when you are not home, this means that just like you, your pet needs a full “night’s” sleep. Regardless of what time you arrive home, make sure to have your sleep schedule set so that your pet in turn knows when to also get in some shut eye. Proper rest is essential for everyone, and for those already altering their circadian rhythm due to shift work, a set sleep schedule can help you avoid chronic fatigue and a host of other related health issues. The same applies to your dog, and studies have even shown how sleep deprivation can negatively affect your dog’s memory and learning abilities.
If you are doing shift work, it is imperative to be aware of the many ways the schedule may affect you and your pet’s health. By remaining as consistent as possible with your hours and setting a strict sleep schedule, you can offset two of the largest stressors associated with night shifts and have a happier, healthier dog as a result.
Submitted by Chrissy Jones. Thanks!