Returning to Work and Your Pet
Authored by Jemma Petts
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Authored by Jemma Petts
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We’re not out of the pandemic woods yet, but we are learning how to live with precautions and return to our daily lives. Many of us are heading back into workspaces part or full-time. It’s no surprise with all that home-time, the relationship with our pets has changed. Pet-adoptions were at an all-time high during the height of COVID-19, and pets that were already in homes grew accustomed to having one or multiple of their people at home. The question is now - how does a pet owner prepare our furry friends for the transition and relieve the anxiety?
Getting your pet ready for your return to work will take some practice. Animals are sensitive and for newly introduced pandemic pets, they may have not had a full day without their favorite person. Separation anxiety is expected. Give them time to adjust and use these tips to help prep you both for those workdays back in the office.
Practice leaving your pet home alone for short amounts of time. Gradually increase the length of time over several days. This practice will help teach your pet that you may leave, but you are coming back home, no matter how long the day feels. As your pet gets used to your leaving, the separation anxiety will lessen.
There are many ways to keep your pet entertained when you’re away. Some owners like to put on music or leave the television on. Keep an eye out for dog-friendly puzzles and toys to keep their brains busy. Distracting your dog from your leaving is key, not so much the long hours of you being away.
Animals are creatures of habit and routines put their minds at ease. Work on setting up a routine for your days so your pet knows what to expect. Waking up and doing morning feedings at the same time on your workdays will help indicate this is the new routine.
A pet with excess energy will have more anxiety and stress, leading to the unwanted behaviors. And a bored dog can be destructive. Adding more exercise to your routine can curb some of these issues. Try adding a game of fetch in the backyard before you head out or build a longer walk into your evening return. Find a toy that they can't live without. Make sure you have plenty of a favorite treat on hand to reward.
Create a calm and safe place for your pup using their crate. While we may have slacked on the crate-training during lockdown, this is a great time to dust it off. Try a large enough metal crate, plastic kennel or a gated off space for this. Reward your pet with treats for spending calm time in their spot. Build up from short lengths of time being left alone in their crate.
Many dog owners love bringing their pets to daycare. It gives dogs a chance to socialize and a secure place to play while you are away. Remember though, daycare is not an answer for daily routine or exercise.
If you notice your pet is having anxiety, take a step back from training and let them readjust to the new norm. It may take your pet a few weeks. Some pet owners have found treats made with CBD work wonders. If you find that your pet is not responding to training or calming aids after several weeks, check with your vet.
Be patient with yourself and your pet during this transition. If you’re anything like me, I’ll also be suffering from some separation anxiety from my furry friend. Animals are tuned into our emotions and will be looking to you to lead the way. Stay calm and make them comfortable while we all learn ways back to post-COVID living.
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