June 07, 2021
How to help animals adjust to your return to work
Garden State Veterinary Specialists
As our world slowly begins to return to a state of normalcy, many people are returning to work. This means for our pets a change in their routine which can sometimes be unsettling. Our pets, like many people, are creatures of habit.
The American Veterinary Medical Association has suggested a variety of measures to help your pet get used to your absence when you return to the office. To begin with, set up a consistent routine that will be similar to the one you will follow when you return to your desk; wake up at the same time every day, feed and walk your dog, and leave your house. Practice short departures daily at first, then gradually increase the duration of your absence to eliminate the anxiety of your departure. Giving your pet a little treat when you go will condition them to associate a reward with your departure. If they’re destructive when you’re gone, reduce the length of your absence and slowly increase the length of your absence.
Increasing the amount of physical activity and play time with your pet before you go can also help. Let your pet burn for energy and he may be more relaxed after you leave. Some pets need a distraction while you’re gone to keep them occupied. Long lasting treats, chew toys, and food puzzles can keep them engaged and relieve anxiety. Giving your pet access to a “safe place” can also be of comfort. If you have previously used a cage for your pet while you were away, this may be a good time to reintroduce it. Keeping toys, blankets, or other comforting items in the crate can also make them feel more secure. Some pet owners have found that radios, televisions, and even a sound machine have provided comfort to their pets while they are away. If you think your pet would benefit from care while you are away, pet sitters and doggy day care would also be an option to consider.
It is important to look for signs of stress in your pet during this time of transition. If your dog barks excessively or whines, displays destructive behavior, or inappropriately urinates or defecates, he may be suffering from separation anxiety. Persistent behavior that does not change despite your best efforts should be discussed with your senior veterinarian or, in difficult cases, a veterinary behaviorist. These professionals can recommend behavior changes and possibly medical treatment.
As we adapt to change, so will our pets. Patience and positive reinforcement along with maintaining a routine will benefit both the pets and the people in our lives.
The information in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of a veterinarian.