How to Help Your Pet Adjust To Your Return to Office
With many of us working from home during the pandemic, our beloved pets have gotten used to having us close by most of the time, but things are beginning to change, and as we return to the office it’s important to help prepare our pets for the big change -- especially if they tend to be anxious. Here are some ways you can help your pet transition to the new schedule.
Start leaving the house
Help your pet get used to you being away for long hours by leaving the house for short periods of time and gradually building up to longer hours. When you get back home, be sure to shower your pet with attention, cuddles, and play time! This will help your pet feel more comfortable with you leaving and help them understand that you always come back.
Develop a routine
Ease into your new routine ahead of time. If your new job has you leaving the house at 7:30 AM, start getting up early and leaving the house, even if just for a little while. Gradually shift your pet’s eating time, play time, and exercise to the new schedule as well. If your pet’s health requires being fed multiple times a day, you can try an automatic feeder. And as always, be sure your pet has plenty of fresh water all day every day.
Help reduce anxiety associated with your departure with rewards
Give your pet small treats or toys whenever you leave the house. This will help distract your pet from your departure. For a game and treat in one that will entertain your pet for a good chunk of time, try a food dispensing toy -- both cats and dogs love them!
Keep your cool
Try not to be overly enthusiastic when you leave your pet in the morning or when you return home. Dissuading big mood swings of emotion will help your pet feel like it’s not that big of a deal when you come and go.
Keep in mind that pets can sense your anxiety. If you’re anxious about leaving them, try and take some deep breaths and stay as calm as you can.
Minimizing triggers that signal to your pet that you’re about to leave can help, too. Try placing your keys in your coat pocket and getting your things ready the night before.
Increase playtime and exercise
Exercise and playing will help your pet feel more relaxed. Take your pup outside to play fetch or pull out the cat wand if you have a cat. Boredom and excess energy can exacerbate anxiety, but if your pet gets some play time or exercise in the morning, they’ll spend more time feeling content and relaxed throughout the day.
Walk your dog before and after work -- and try “scent walks”
Even if it’s been a long day, you’ll both feel better after a walk, even if it’s brief. Allowing sniffing on walks provides huge mental benefits for dogs and also makes them feel more calm and content, which can help relieve behavioral problems.
Watch for signs that your pet isn't coping well
If you’re trying out these tips and they’re not helping, watch for signs of stress and separation anxiety, such as increased panting, increased vocalization, increased or decreased appetite, anxiety, depression, destructive chewing or other behavioral problems, potty accidents, or becoming abnormally clingy.
If your dog isn’t coping well, try Doggy Daycare, a Dog Walker, training with a Dog Trainer, or separation anxiety treatment
Doggy Daycare gives your pup the ability to socialize with other dogs and provides enough company and activity to keep your dog happy and tired.
A Dog Walker dropping by a few times a week could be helpful for dogs that benefit most from getting out of the house and going on a walk during the day.
Behavioral assistance with a Dog Trainer can help counter-condition your dog’s anxiety response to separation. It can boost your dog’s confidence, too.
If you’ve tried everything and your cat or dog continues to suffer from separation anxiety, try talking with your veterinarian about other options, including anxiety medications or supplements.
Returning to work may be tough at first, but if you ease your pet into their new way of life and be sure to give them plenty of affection, attention, and exercise, they’ll most likely adjust just fine in time.
If you have a dog that you know or suspect is vocal when you leave the house, it’s always a good idea to talk to your neighbor about the situation and ask them to let you know if your pet is being excessively vocal. Their feedback will help you gauge whether your pet is having trouble adjusting and will also help you maintain a good relationship with them!