There is no doubt our pets have provided comfort and a sense of normality during these emotionally challenging and uncertain times.
Dogs across the country are loving life – with their family’s home during the day and being exercised more than ever due to people looking for added activities during these times of self-isolation. While cats are most-likely counting down the days until their humans return to work and they have their homes back to themselves.
As restrictions start to be lifted and people return to work our pets may be suddenly be spending more time alone – big changes to their daily routine can be confusing and stressful. Fortunately, there are plenty of measures we can take to help our furry companions adjust to this change.
Keep a regular routine
The current situation has required dramatic changes to our lives in a short space of time. Like us, animals can find unpredictability and dramatic changes to routine stressful. Maintaining a regular schedule can reduce stress by ensuring your companion has a routine.
If you are working from home, try to start and finish work at the same time each day and schedule breaks at the same time. These breaks will allow you to connect with your pet and scheduling activities into the same time slots will also help your pet to settle.
Provide them alone time
Many dogs have been on more walks than ever before, which they will be very happy about!
However, it is important for our companion animals to have alone time – this can be as simple spending time in a separate room from them or not taking them with you on essential travel.
Start with short time frames and gradually increase how long you are separated away, make sure they have something fun to do. This is particularly important if you have a foster or recently adopted animal who you may not have been left home alone before.
Help them settle at home alone
When leaving your pets alone, we recommend providing them something fun to do to build a positive association with being on their own. You can hide treats for them to find, use a puzzle feeder, or a Kong stuffed with treats.
Exercise your dog or play activities with your cat to burn off their excess energy before you leave. Many cats find wand toys irresistible and even enjoy trick training and change up your dog’s exercise with activities such as fetch.
Allow time for your pet to settle after their exercise and before you do leave, make your departures as fuss free as possible. The same applies for when returning home – while it will be hard not to react to their excitement to see you, this will teach your pet that your coming and going is nothing to get excited about.
If you follow the above steps, most pets will adapt well to these changes. However, some animals may find the transition more difficult and you may notice signs of stress as they adjust to their new routine.
Cats are particularly sensitive to changes in routine and signs of anxiety can include changes in appetite, scratching or spraying. In dogs, common signs of anxiety can include excessive barking, destructive behaviour or excessive panting.
If you are concerned about your pet’s anxiety levels it is always recommended you consult your veterinarian for advice and they will be able to offer alternative suggestions.