Quarantine has been your dog’s dream come true—sleeping late, lunchtime walks, and snoozing at your feet while you master Zoom meetings top their list of favorites. But, as things return to a new version of normal, you may find yourself preparing to go back to work. While you have loved spending every moment with your furry sidekick, the constant togetherness may have set them up for separation anxiety when left alone again. In addition to ensuring you can still fit into your work clothes—the quarantine 19 is real!—follow our list of do’s and don’ts to help your furry family member adjust to your return to work.
DO stick to a schedule
Chances are your schedule has strayed from the normal nine-to-five while you have been working from home. But, pets thrive on predictability, and gain a sense of security from knowing when to expect their breakfast, daily walk, and bedtime. If you suddenly switch back to your typical workday routine, you may throw your pet into a tailspin. Instead, ease back into your old routine by rising early, resuming your normal bedtime, and feeding your pet on a schedule you can maintain while at work.
DON’T give your pet the run of the house
If you are concerned about your pet’s reaction when left alone, a crate or small room is the safest place. If you adopted a pandemic puppy, your new pal has probably spent little time alone, and may get into mischief if given free reign of the house. Set up a crate with a comfy bed and your pet’s favorite toys, which will become their security den.
DO use long-lasting treats
When you treat your furry pal to a food puzzle or snuffle mat, do they become oblivious to your presence while searching for every last morsel? Save those special treats for your pet when they are left alone for extended periods. On your way out, toss your pet a Kong filled with a frozen mixture of canned food and veggies, fruit and yogurt, or peanut butter and kibble. They may be so distracted, they won’t notice you slip away.
DON’T suddenly leave your pet alone for the whole day
If you head out for an eight-hour stretch after being home with your pet day in and day out, your sudden absence will be a shock. Instead, start with short bouts of solo time—go for a walk, run an errand, or head to the grocery store alone, so your pet can become reaccustomed to being on their own. Or, while you work from home, crate your pet in another room for a few hours while you field calls or answer emails.
DO keep an eye on your pet when you are gone
Do you wonder what your pet does while home alone? Outfit your pet’s area with a home security camera you can access with your smartphone or computer. Check on them throughout the day to ensure they do not display separation anxiety signs, such as excessive whining, barking, or drooling, or frantic attempts to escape. If your pet seems distressed, don’t talk to them through the camera, as your disembodied voice will confuse them, and likely cause more anxiety.
DON’T make a big deal of goodbyes and hellos
Your pet takes their cues from you, and if you act as if your leaving is a horrible sentence, and your arrival ends their tortuous solitude, they will behave accordingly. Avoid giving your pet excess attention, comforting them, or justifying their anxiety. Instead, get ready for work, toss your pet a special treat, and head out the door. When you return home, let your pet out, take off your shoes, and sit down before calmly greeting your furry pal.
DO tire out your pet
Daily exercise can work wonders for your pet’s mental outlook, and can dampen stress and anxiety. If possible, take your pet on a morning walk, and they will be much calmer when you leave and, after working through a treat-filled Kong, may settle in for a long nap.
DO enlist the help of your Leawood Plaza Animal Hospital veterinary team
If you come home to a quivering mass of nerves, and think your pet may have separation anxiety, Leawood Plaza Animal Hospital can help. Behavior modification, calming supplements, and medications are available that can help your pet overcome their fear of being alone. Contact us to discuss your pet’s anxiety, and we will help you devise a plan for a successful transition to independence.