We all know it’s coming – D-day for our return to work. For those of us who have spent weeks, if not months, at home enjoying the unwavering love and affection of pets, the time to begin our transition back to work and away from the day-long wagging tails of our fur-friends is on the horizon.
It is going to be hard, but spare a thought for our pet-pals. Until now, they have relished day-long attention on command. For some pets, their pet parents return to work could raise feelings of fear and anxiety.
Animal behaviourists say that separation anxiety can happen among dogs, cats and even birds. It occurs when animals bond strongly with their pet parent and then feel anxious when they are left alone.
In preparation for the move back into pre-COVID work routines, here are some tips to help you help your pet adjust.
Start early: There isn’t anything worse than being thrown into the deep end to deal with a different experience or environment without warning. You may already have plans for your return to work outside of your home office. Start to think about how your return to work may affect your pet and what you can do to prepare them for the change.
Stick to a routine: If you have let some of the rules bend while you have been working from home, now is the time to pull them back into line. Develop a daily routine of feeding, exercising, and one-on-one time with your pet and keep to this every day. Set clear guidelines about when your pet can have your full attention and when they have to entertain themselves.
Make alone time a positive experience: RSPCA VIC suggests supporting your pet to feel comfortable having alone time. You could achieve this by providing your dog or cat with enrichment toys or playing music for them to relax.
Monitor their moods: Some pets may need extra help to adjust to not having you around as often. Observe your pet’s mood, particularly if they are more senior or frail. You may want to seek advice from your vet to develop strategies to help them cope.
Pet sitter for companionship: Pet sitters can be a welcome friend to ease the transition for your pet. If travel is part of your return to work plans, a pet sitter can support your pet while you are away. They can remain in their familiar, comfortable home environment to ease anxiety around separation. Browse pet sitter profiles online to find an ideal sitter for your pet.