Much as we long for the day our stay at home restrictions will be lifted, and we can return to our normal working lives – your furry friend may not be happy at all.
We are looking forward to getting back to our work colleagues and going out for lunch on our break.
Just the thought of going to your office kitchen to make coffee without being tracked by your four-legged stalker is exciting.
While we will be returning to interacting with our friends and catching up on all the gossip, our pets will be left at home on their own wondering where we have gone.
One impact of this virus is that our pets now have us at home with them nearly 24/7. They track us as we go about our day stuck inside and now know us better than we know ourselves.
While it was certainly unsettling at first for our pets to find us at home with them all day it will be even more unsettling for them when they find themselves “Home Alone” not unlike that famous scene in the movie with Macaulay Culkin.
Worried Your Pet Will Be Lonely when you go back to working away from home?
Routine Is So Important.
Just like children, our pets need routine and a structure to their day. As adults going through the changes brought on by this pandemic, we are now suffering the effects of being thrown out of our normal routine and experiencing the impact it is having on our wellbeing and that of our friends and family.
Ours pets daily routine has evaporated alongside ours and in order to avoid separation anxiety for them when we return to work, we need to put a plan into place now, to ensure our pets are happy and not anxious when we return to our offices.
Hands Up who can’t wait to return to a routine of Work, Rest & Play!
Imagine knowing you will:
- WORK (For a structured period of time
- REST (To recharge your batteries)
- PLAY (Meet your friends for fun and adventures)
This is exactly the same for your pet. They are at their happiest with routine.
- WORK (Walks satisfy their natural instincts – structured periods of time that break up their day are most effective).
- REST (A few nice naps in between walks balance the day).
- PLAY (A visit from their pet sitter friend for playtime is something to look forward to).
Seperation Anxiety & How To Prevent It!
The old saying Prevention is better than cure rings especially true for our pets and Separation Anxiety as it is one of the most difficult behavioural problems to cure.
What you do now can save a lot of heartache in the future. It is time to start getting your pets back into their old routine while you are still there to support them.
Things understandably have all gone a little bit chaotic and unpredictable with our stay at home restrictions.
Breakfast can be 7am or 12 noon – Walks can be too many or none at all – Dinner can be nearly at bedtime.
While for a short time like the Christmas holidays that’s fine, just remember how difficult it is to get back to reality afterwards and how stress starts to creep in for you, the children and your pets.
Think about how your pets used to enjoy their day.
MORNING Time: Out the back to say Hello to the birds and back in for my breakfast. Looking forward to my favourite chew toys I get when my family leave.
AFTERNOON: Out for a walk with my pet sitter friend and then a nice afternoon nap.
EVENING: My Family returns home and we catch up and have dinner.
BEDTIME: Some playtime and cuddles with my family before we go to bed.
Whatever your routine was with your pet, you need to gradually get back to it – similar feeding times, exercise breaks, playtimes and bedtime cuddles.
This will set your pet up for success when you return to work and your pet sitter can follow your routine exactly which will reassure your pet, as they crave consistency and structure.
Just as a child will be happiest with a babysitter that follows their feeding / playtime and bedtime routines.
What Exactly Is Separation Anxiety?
Separation anxiety describes a condition in which pets exhibits stress and behavioral problems when they are separated from their family.
Stress can lead to physical and mental illness, so it is very important to prevent it if possible or manage it quickly if you see the first signs.
Symptoms are excessive barking, whining, destroying furniture, ripping open cushions, chewing on staircases, trying to escape…the list goes on!
If you have never watched “Marley & Me” add it to your stay at home must see viewing list. Based on a beautiful true story, the central character, an adorable Labrador retriever, exhibits the more extreme symptoms early on in the movie.
Basic Rules To Prevent Seperation Anxiety
#1. Make Your Leaving Home REWARDING for your Pet!
Create a positive association, with the fact that you are leaving, and they will be happy to see you go.
Give them a HIGH VALUE TREAT that they only get when you are leaving.
This can be a favourite toy / treat.
I find one of the best toys to use is a Treat Dispensing Ball, which satisfies your pet’s scent and search drive. Many have adjustable openings so you can decide how challenging it needs to be for your pet.
Or if your pet needs something that can hold their attention for a bit longer, their Breakfast/ Dinner can be served in a durable rubber dog toy, like K9 Connectables, or a Kong instead of their usual bowl. These work for both cats and dogs.
This mental stimulation imitates what they would do in nature and is very satisfying and helps them to relax.
#2. Leave some BACKROUND NOISE on
This can be the radio or TV.
Animal behaviourists have discovered that music can be as soothing for your pets as it is for you.
To help your pet to relax at home alone, try some calming classical music. This has been proven to help pets suffering from separation anxiety.
Any calm, easy listening music is effective and there are specific recordings now available for dogs that you can upload for your pet.
#3. Stick to A Daily ROUTINE!
Breakfast before you leave for work.
A walk with their pet sitter at lunch time. Or just some playtime and cuddles.
Playtime and dinner when you return.
Whatever it is that fits best for you and your pet and your family, Stick to It!
#4. PRACTICE Frequent Separations!
Practise makes perfect
Leave the home for frequent short periods of time to start. This will reassure your pet that you are not leaving forever.
When you are working from home leave your pet in another room – this will get them used to switching off from you and having some alone time.
PLAN NOW for Your Pet and Enjoy Your Return to Work with No Worries
#1. Write up Your Pet Care Plan Now
Tailor your plan to best meet your pet’s age and exercise requirements and your schedule.
Morning: Give your pet breakfast in their Kong as you leave for work so they are happy to see you go. Leave the radio on for company!
Afternoon: Pet Sitter visit for a Quick Break for playtime / walk / garden break.
Evening: Home for a walk together and dinner.
#2. Use a Checklist the week before you return to work
Enrichment toys ready?
Pet Food ready?
Pet Sitter Booked?
#3. Activate Your Plan when you return to Work!
It is crucial that you start your first week back to work according to your plan. Follow the steps you decided were the ones that will achieve happiness and contentment for all of you.
Your Steps To A Happy Return To Work For You & Your Pet!
- Write up Your Pet Care PLAN
- Use a CHECKLIST the week before you return to work.
- ACTIVATE Your Plan when you return to work.
It will be so much easier for you and your pet, as you have put the structure in place now, so you will both have a routine to follow and look forward to, when you return to work.
Happy pets and Happy you!