If you have been feeling out of sorts with a routine that is anything but normal, imagine how your pets feel. Having you around 24-7 may be a source of joy or anxiety for your pets depending on their temperament. Now, after two months of getting adjusted to this new normal, they will be faced with you returning to work.
How should you go about getting your pets reacclimated to the old routine?
Much like helping new or young pets adjust to a new household, the key is allowing enough time. Every animal is different, so reading their signals is crucial. While more independent pets—cats tend to thrive on alone time—may easily adjust to your being away again, pets that really loved the extra attention they received with you home may experience some separation anxiety.
Your best bet is to start preparing them a week or two before for your anticipated return to work.
- Get your regular schedule going now by getting up at the same time each day and feeding them at the times you would if coming and going from work.
- Schedule playtime and walk time as you would when working and avoid extra walks you would not otherwise have.
- If possible, begin leaving pets alone for 30 minutes at a time and gradually increase that time away by running errands or taking a drive.
- Begin before work practices that your pet recognizes, such as carrying a briefcase or wearing work clothes, when you leave.
- Turn activities that cause your pet anxiety into something routine, such as putting shoes on even when you aren’t leaving the house.
- Be sure your pets have toys and comfort items to keep them occupied and relaxed while you are away.
- If your pet normally spent time in a crate or behind a pet gate while you were working, begin this routine again.
- If you work nearby and can get away, ease the transition for your pet by stopping home for lunch or during a break.
What if your call back to work gave you no time to prepare your pet? While any significant change in routine can cause your pet some anxiety, remember they are resilient. Your pets will provide signs that they are stressed or struggling with the change.
Dogs may whine or paw at the door or window when you leave. In more extreme cases they may become destructive or have accidents. Cats may become more vocal, show a lack of appetite, or become standoffish. In extreme cases, they may suddenly stop using their litter box.
If your pets are struggling with your return to work, take a few extra minutes with them before you leave. Leaving a television or radio on for company may also help soothe your pet. You may also consider hiring a dog walker or house sitter during the transition period.
If you have questions or concerns about helping your pet reacclimate, contact the experts at Lake Cable Animal Hospital.