The need to work from home over the past few months has meant that many of us have experienced major lifestyle changes. And we shouldn’t underestimate the impact that can have on our pets. While some animals have no doubt welcomed having their humans around more, it has certainly been a change to their routine.

With restrictions recently beginning to ease, it’s a good idea to start thinking about your return to work. To make the transition as smooth as possible for your four-legged friend, try following some of these simple steps. 

Stick to a routine

Just like us, animals can find dramatic changes to their life highly stressful.

An easy way to combat this is by following a daily schedule that includes feeding, exercise, toileting, rest and one-on-one time. Try to ensure that this routine mimics your normal, non-pandemic routine so there’s less change for your animal to cope with when the time comes for you to get back to work.

Give your pet some alone time

It’s a great idea to make sure your animal still feels comfortable being alone. After all, your pet has enjoyed your constant company for months.

Here’s how to get started:  

  1. Set your pet up in a safe and comfortable room. Use enrichment toys (like these for dogs and these for cats) to ensure your pet views “alone time” positively. This could be in the form of hidden treats, a puzzle feeder or a toy to cuddle, chew and play with. Rotate the toys every day so your pet doesn’t get bored.

  2. If you have an overly anxious pet, solo time doesn’t have to last long. Try leaving your animal alone for five minutes at a time and then aim to slowly increase that window.

  3. If you have a dog, try taking some walks without them. If you have more than one dog, it might help walking them separately so they get used to being apart.

  4. Most animals will settle well after exercise. Before leaving your pet alone, schedule in some fun activities. Give your pet 15-20 minutes to wind down before they are left alone.

An effective strategy to help reduce separation anxiety is to downplay your arrivals and departures. While it can be hard to resist giving your gorgeous pet a cuddle when you leave or come home, keeping it low-key shows your pet that these events are nothing to get anxious about.

Help your pet feel more secure at home

There are many ways to increase your pet’s comfort and wellbeing. Ideally, your household will have at least one area where your pet can relax undisturbed. Explain to young children that they need to respect an animal’s alone time and tell them what signs to look out for when a pet may be feeling overwhelmed.

For cats, kitty furniture will ensure you have a very happy feline. If you have a barking dog, try playing soothing music or an audiobook while you are out.  

We all know humans love a scented candle to unwind. Animals also love a soothing smell in the form of synthetic pheromones. Adaptil® for dogs and Feliway® for cats can be purchased from our online store

Keep an eye on your pet

Make sure you look out for signs of stress in your animal during this transitional period.

With cats, check for changes in activity levels, increased hiding, inappropriate toileting, changes in appetite or scratching.

In dogs, common distress signs can include a house-trained dog toileting inside, excessive howling, barking, destroying, drooling or panting.

Don’t punish your pet if these behaviours occur. Instead, seek help from a reputable animal trainer or behaviourist who will be able to help diagnose and solve the problem.