We can all agree that the year 2020 can be described as anything but “smooth.” Despite the uncertainty and disruption, pet parents have been fortunate to spend more time with their furry family members at home. As humans return to their workplace or school building, new routines may trigger loneliness, depression, and separation anxiety for pets.
Our companions thrive on predictability in their schedules and changes can disrupt your pet’s feelings of security and confidence. This can lead to behavioral changes such as destructive chewing, having accidents in the house, and withdrawing from your affection.
Preparing your pet for an empty house now can reduce the effects of an abrupt change. Here are our top tips to help your pet adjust.
1. Practice Makes Perfect
As September approaches, increase your pet’s time alone in the house. Start slowly, even if it’s just taking 10 minutes to sit outside in your car listening to the radio or scrolling through your phone. Gradually add 10-15 minutes at a time to gradually desensitize your pet to being on their own again. If your pet is extremely anxious when you return, keep repeating shorter intervals until they are more comfortable with your absence.
2. Consider Hiring a Pet Walker, Sitter, or Daycare
If your pet has become accustomed to frequent bathroom breaks, you may want to hire a walker to bring your dog out while you’re gone. A pet professional, or even the kid learning remotely next door, can help your dog burn excess energy and provide a little love and affection while you’re at work. Most dog walkers are happy to visit cats, too, and engage them with pets or playtime.
Did you add a new puppy to your family during isolation? Doggie daycare is a wonderful way to provide your pup with plenty of play, care, and attention. For highly active dogs of all ages, full-day care may be a better option than drop-in sitting and walks.
3. Add Extra Quality Time to Your Morning Routine
Longer walks and extra snuggles are always a good thing. Set your alarm a little early to provide your pet with a way to release extra energy and enjoy a bit of attention. A game of fetch or playing with a feather wand are perfect for playtime. Try not to be jealous when they doze off to sleep as you head out the door!
4. Provide Physical and Mental Enrichment
Dogs and cats benefit from puzzle toys and games to keep them engaged while you’re away from home.
Some of our favorite options include:
- Freezing a Kong filled with peanut butter.
- Feeding your cat with the Egg-Cersizer and Cat Fishbowl.
- Hiding treats around the house for your pet to find while you’re at work.
5. Help Ease Your Pet’s Stress with Calming Aids
Sometimes pets need significant intervention to overcome the stress and anxiety of major changes. Some do well with pheromone collars and diffusers, such as Adaptil for dogs and Feliway for cats. Others may benefit from a prescription medication to ease their fears.
Behaviors such as uncharacteristic accidents, crying and barking, scratching at the door, and destructive tendencies may suggest your pet’s anxiety is more than just worry. Make an appointment and we can diagnose and treat separation anxiety.
This year has brought big changes for humans and pets alike. Checking out doggie daycares, contacting pet sitters, and ordering a few fresh toys can set your pet up for a smooth transition back to work and school.
If you have questions about how to help your dog or cat miss you less, we have answers. Separation anxiety is heartbreaking for pet parents. Intervention improves your companion’s life and helps you feel less guilty about being away from home. Make an appointment today.
Photo Credit: Nitiphonphat / iStock / Getty Images Plus