If there’s a silver lining around people staying home over the past 18mths, it has been the time we’ve been able to spend with our pets. Extra playtime, attention, cuddles and walks has benefited thousands of pets – and people – around Australia.
With the rollout of vaccines taking place across the country, and lockdown durations reducing, Australians are transitioning back to more ‘normal’ working conditions. While some workplaces are going all-in on remote and work-from-home choices, many people will be spending part of (or all of) the week at the office.
A lot of people are nervous about the impact these changes will have to the wellbeing of their pets. Will they cope? What can be done to help them with this transition?
First things first
If your pet isn’t used to being at home without you, they may respond with confusion and stress to your return to the office. You’re about to alter their routine, something they depend upon to help them feel safe, calm and happy.
Your presence at home may have distracted your pet from their previous routine and activities. Before returning to the office, it will be important to establish a new routine for them that gives them plenty to do and space for calm.
Start before you go back to work
One of the best ways you can manage your return to work is to begin practicing it before it actually happens. Set up a leaving routine, get ready in the morning like you would if you were going to the office. Take them for a walk, prepare their toys, put on some soothing music – do everything you would normally do if you were leaving the house for the day.
The next day, do the same thing, but leave the house for a minute or two. Build this up gradually within your pet’s comfort levels – some pets may be able to deal with minutes at a time, while some may become overly concerned the moment you leave. Always work to your pets needs – if you go too fast, it can make it harder for them to adjust to your absence.
Give your pets plenty of enrichment
Like humans, pets need mental stimulation. Without adequate mental and physical enrichment pets can become bored or anxious, and begin demonstrating unwanted or problematic behaviours. Scratching, barking, destruction (of furniture, toys, even digging holes outside) can all be signs that your pet does not have adequate enrichment.
Exercise is a great way to help your pet adjust to a new routine. For extra effectiveness, combine physical activity with brain training (such as obedience or trick training) to help your pet feel fulfilled and stimulated.
Treat dispensing toys, such as kongs, are another great way to keep your pet occupied while you’re at the office. They’ll love the puzzle-solving aspect and food reward for their hard work. Match the toy to your pet’s needs – smarter pets may require more tricky problem toys!
Get some extra help
Sometimes the best way to transition a pet to a new routine is to organise a pet sitter or dog walker to come and give you a little extra help. The extra attention and stimulation while you’re away might juts be what your pet requires to get them through the day.
There are plenty of professional pet sitters and dog walkers available these days. Try your local community groups, notice boards, training schools and professional websites to find the right fit for your pet. Some communities have a doggy daycare facility that could accommodate your dog for some extra (supervised) fun!
What to do if your pet is struggling
If your little companion begins to show signs of separation anxiety, it’s best to give our team a call to discuss the situation and find a tailored solution for your pet. There are a variety of support options that we can discuss, including therapeutic pheromone collars (or wall-plugins) to help with keeping your pet calm, or specific training support that can be provided to help your pet stay happy, calm and healthy.
Going back to the office might be challenging, but your pet’s wellbeing is paramount. Luckily, you don’t have to do this alone! The friendly veterinarians and nurses at Matraville Veterinary Practice are here to help you. Book an appointment to discuss your circumstances and we’ll get you on the road to success.