Once COVID-19 restrictions start to ease, and we return to work, school or study, we may be starting to spend more time away from home. It is essential to know how to help our pets manage this transition, as knowing what to expect supports their emotional health and gives them a sense of control.
**Routine, routine, routine. Pets thrive on routine. **
Mealtime is the most anticipated event of the day, so be sure to give meals at roughly the same time. Exercise is another high-value activity. Be sure to establish a routine that you can maintain once you return to work or study.
Things you can do now to help ease separation strain
Our pets will need to wean themselves off having us at home all day. While some cats may embrace this change, for many dogs, the transition to time alone could be tough. Here are some tips to help:
1. Move sleeping bedsout of your home office and back to their ‘usual’ spot. Create a comfortable and safe space where your dog is happy to spend time alone. Ensure they always have access to clean water and a place to toilet.
2. Identify and start to desensitise pets to your departure cues. Do you jangle your house keys? Put a backpack on? Dogs are great at piecing together cues which signal your intent to leave. Gradual exposure to these cues can help reduce the anxiety associated with them. So, pick up your keys and sit and watch TV, or put on work shoes and cook dinner. Over time, your departure cues will become less likely to trigger anxiety.
3. Practice leaving for small periods.And as your dog gets used to your absence gradually increase time away. Start small, just a few minutes, then slowly increase to five minutes, ten minutes, 20, 30 and so on. If you can, interchange time away with your housemates or partner to begin with.
Try your best to establish these things now, giving your pet time to adjust.
Remember, separation-related issues are not naughty behaviours and should not be disciplined. There are always underlying emotional reasons for our pet’s actions. If you are worried or if your pet is displaying behaviours like escaping, digging, chewing, toileting inappropriately, pacing or barking,please seek advice from the DRVC team. We can help you de-code their behaviour and restore their wellbeing.
Tips to keep in mind when leaving your dog alone:
1. Allow access to the inside of your home if possible; it will make for a calmer pet.
2. Rotate toy access. A toy that is left around can soon lose its novelty.
3. Make use of boredom busting toys or scatter feeding techniques.
4. Find help – consider a dog walker or invest in doggy daycare. Ask a neighbour to dog sit so their dog can enjoy your dog’s company, too.
5. Investigate pheromones. Our veterinary clinic sells products that omit soothing pheromones to help make your cat and or dog feel calm. Give us a call if you think these would be useful.
VetCheck is the easy-to-use app that allows you to keep all of their pet’s information, appointments and treatment plans in one place. Developed by Dr Moss Siddle, it is a complete pet care management app and it's FREE!