Over the last several months, working from home has very much become the ‘new normal’ for many of us. Whether you’ve loved this or felt a very different way about it, it’s pretty certain to say that your pet has thoroughly enjoyed having you at home more often. For them, it’s meant more quality time, more pats, more walks, and more treats!
However, when it comes time for us to go back to the office, there’s a chance that your pet may struggle with the change. Our pets are creatures of habit, so it’s important to do everything we can to make sure they feel calm and comfortable during changes to routine.
To help your pet if they’re experiencing separation anxiety once you go back to the office, here are five tips.
1. Practice beforehand
Your pet is going to need to get used to you not being at home so often, and taking baby steps to help them get used to this can be a great start is helping them to feel confident and comfortable while you’re not at home (and to stop them pining for you).
If you know you’re going back to work on a certain date, then make time to ‘practice’ being separated from your pet in the weeks beforehand. Start by leaving them for half an hour (maybe to run to the store or run an errand) every day, and then slowly increase this by half-hour increments each week.
Remember to not make a big fuss when you leave or come back to your pet, as this can make them feel anxious when this happens. Instead, put your things down without speaking to them or looking at them, wait for them to stop barking or jumping up, tell them to sit, and then come down to their level once they are calm.
2. Make sure they’re comfortable
You shouldn’t be your pet’s only source of comfort – they should feel comfortable in your home even when you’re not there. There are a few ways you can do this.
- Create a safe space for them – Whether this is a nice bed, a crate (if they’re crate trained), or a puppy playpen, create a space in your home for your pet that’s entirely theirs and that they feel safe in. Give them lots of positive reinforcement when they’re in this space and make it a pleasant place for them to be.
- Make your home a comfortable temperature – You don’t want to be leaving your pet in a home that’s too cold or too hot all day, as both of these can have negative health implications. Heat exhaustion is especially dangerous for animals, so you need to always make sure that you have good ventilation, shade, and fresh, clean drinking water available to them.
- Leave clothes that smell like you – Here’s a use for your dirty laundry! Leave your pet with clothes that smell like you in a location they can access. As pets use their sense of smell once more than we do, it can often be calming and relaxing for them to be able to smell you while you’re not there.
3. Make sure they’re occupied
If you’re not there to play with your pet, then make sure they have things to play with that can replace you. There are so many toys available on the market now that challenge our pets and enrich their lives, such as puzzle feeders, Kongs, and an endless amount of chew products that should keep them entertained while you’re at work.
One good idea is to fill a Kong toy with a treat (depending on the age of your pet, you could try natural yogurt, peanut butter, the Kong cheese spray, or a packaged treat) and give it to them right before you leave. Not only will this provide positive reinforcement that you leaving isn’t a bad thing, but it will also keep them occupied! This also works well if you freeze the Kong with yogurt or peanut butter inside it on hot days.
4. Consider doggie daycare
Taking your dog to a doggie daycare facility is another option for helping relieve them of their separation anxiety. If this is something within your budget, consider booking them one to three days a week. Not only will they make loads of new pet friends, but they’ll be absolutely exhausted by the time you pick them up and will likely want to head straight to bed.
5. Speak to your veterinarian
If you’re concerned about your pet’s separation anxiety, speaking to your veterinarian about potential solutions it’s a definite next step. Your trusted animal professional will be able to recommend the best course of action for dealing with your pet’s stress, whether it’s medicinal (like an animal stress-reliever medication) or behavioral (having a trainer come to your home to help you train your dog).
Beating separation anxiety
Heading back to the office can be hard for both you and your pet after months of working from home. Remember to take it easy and ease both of you into your new routine. With a bit of a thought-out strategy, a little professional help, and a lot of love (and treats), you’ll both be happy and thrilled to come home to one another at the end of the day once again.