Back at the start of the lockdown, we shared our staff pet pictures on our ‘Pets at home’ post as we all enjoyed the opportunity to bond with our pets, in many cases, full-time. But as life slowly returns to normal, it’s important to help them adjust to a life at home without their owners. They no doubt relished all the attention but we can’t expect our pets to immediately understand that it’s business as usual.
If you’re due to go back to work soon or even if you’ve already returned, below are a few tips to consider to minimise your pet’s anxiety:
- If you have advance warning of when you’re going back to work there are some things you can do to get your pet ready. Things like preparing them by introducing mini absences which increase over time and help build an adjustment period of separation.
- Don’t underestimate your pet’s ability to learn and recognise details in your daily routine. If you normally wear certain clothes for work or provide a special treat before leaving, start these “rituals” again alongside your mini absence routine.
- If walk times and meal times have shifted over the last few months, try getting those back to normal too.
Of course in the real world, not everyone will have plenty of notice and if that is the case, you can still ease the mental stress in other ways.
- A tired pet is a happy pet. Oh so true. This is something we can all do. Make sure your pet gets enough activity before you leave for work. A release of pent up energy will help ease any mental stress and make them too tired to be anxious or destructive!
- Depending on your pet, it can be a good idea to leave a new puzzle toy or other items to keep them entertained. While focusing on other activities, they won’t be concerned with your absence.
- Let your neighbour know. With dogs for example, if you’ve got ‘at home’ neighbours it would be worth mentioning to them that you are going back to work. They can let you know if there is any excessive noise, and help you understand how your pet is adjusting.
- Some animals can respond well to music – leave a radio/TV on when you leave to create familiarity for your pet. Human voices can be comforting when alone.
- Avoid saying dramatic goodbyes to your pet when you leave or come home. Give them a special treat before you head out the door, so they associate you leaving with something good. If your dog senses that leaving is a bad thing, they will be more likely to develop separation anxiety.
- Consider a dog walker or day care. It doesn’t have to be permanent, but if it helps with the transition period as we return to work, it may buy you some time.
We are most definitely a nation of pet lovers and we’ve had the perfect opportunity to bond with our pets over the past few months. Let’s all now make sure they still feel loved as we begin to return to something resembling normal.
Take a look at our staff pets.