What a difference a year makes!
If you think back to last April, you’ll quickly remember we were in the midst of a worldwide lockdown. This stay-at-home order meant most office workers were abruptly sent home indefinitely — a challenging adjustment, to be sure.
But one silver lining to the pandemic was the opportunity to spend more time with our beloved pets. They laid at our feet during endless Zoom calls, barked in the background during virtual school sessions, and joined us during our lunch break walks around the neighborhood.
While we humans sometimes struggled with the 24/7 togetherness, our pets got the one thing they can never get enough of:
But now, with vaccines being widely distributed, many people are getting ready to return to the office and back to vacationing. So, how will your pet handle the transition?
Many vets and behaviorists are worried about a potential surge in separation anxiety, especially for animals who were adopted during quarantine and have no familiarity with their families’ pre-Covid lifestyle.
If you’re anticipating these issues with your pet, there are things you can do to help ease the transition. In a recent Washingtonian article, local experts suggest:
1. Leaving your animals alone for longer periods. Even if you’re just running out for a few minutes, allow your pet to practice being alone. Learning to self-soothe and get into their at-home routine is important for their independence.
2. Tiring them out (both mentally and physically) before you leave. When animals are left alone, they sometimes act out not because they’re anxious but because they’re bored. Take your pet outside, let them sniff around for a while, and maybe even play fetch for a few minutes. A little exercise will make them more inclined to sleep — and stay out of trouble — when you’re not home.
3. Creating a safe spot for your pet. This could be a location or room in your home where they feel most comfortable, like a quiet bedroom or den. You could even create a “fort-like” spot for dogs who get anxious, such as an open crate with a blanket over the top.
4. Easing back into your routine well in advance. If your new morning walk will move from 10 am to 7 am once you return to the office, slowly move it earlier and earlier, so it won’t feel like an abrupt change on your first day back. Creating a pre-work routine that you (and your pet) can depend on will help get your day off to a strong start.
5. Familiarizing your pet with new people. If you’ll be taking your pet to daycare or hiring a dog walker, take the time to get them re-adjusted to other people and animals. Visit the dog park and don’t wait until the first day back to drop them off at daycare ¬— let them have a few practice runs to get used to it ahead of time.
6. Setting up an in-home camera. Many signs of separation anxiety are impossible to miss when you walk through the door — chewed furniture, shredded books, etc. But other indicators aren’t so obvious. By installing a camera, you’ll be able to see if your pet is lying by the door all day, pacing, or having a hard time settling down.
If you see signs of anxiety, consider what might be making it worse. Are there outside noises or people walking by regularly? If so, figuring out how to curb these distractions (closing blinds, disabling your doorbell) could make a big difference.
As you transition back to work, pay close attention to your animals and don’t wait to get help if they don’t seem like themselves. Enlist a professional as soon as possible so that the behavior doesn’t get worse — and you and your pets can go back to living your best lives!
At Woofie’s, we understand how hard it can be for your pet to be at home all day, whether you’re heading back to the office, leaving for vacation, or simply spending a day out and about.
To help with all of your pet sitting and walking needs, we offer a variety of services that we customize to your particular pet. From daily visits to your home to full-service overnight care, we’re here to help with whatever you need to make your time away from home more enjoyable — for you and your pet!
To learn about our services and set up a free consultation, please visit our website. We’re here to help you and your pet’s transition run smoothly, both now and in the future!