Rewind back to March of 2020 when many of us started making the transition from working in the office full time to mostly working from home. This was quite the adjustment for those who were used to the commute to and from work every day. Along with working from home, some people took up some new hobbies. Maybe for you it was gardening or cooking, and others it was home workouts or painting. While you were filling your time with these activities, there was one member of the family that got used to you being home all the time. Your furry, cuddly companion. Whether you already had a dog or cat, or got a so-called ‘pandemic pet’, they definitely got accustomed to having you around from morning to night.
Now, as it’s time to return to work, you should start thinking about how your absence will affect your pet. They won’t be used to seeing you every minute of the day anymore so some pets, especially those you got during the pandemic, could develop separation anxiety. Symptoms of this include excessive drooling, destruction around the house, or howling. Not only is this stressful for you, but it’s just as stressful for your pet too. There are some tips to help them ease into the transition and lower their stress while you’re away.
If you know you’re going back out to work soon, come up with a plan to train your pet how to be alone. The best way to do this is by leaving your house for small increments of time and then working up to 1, 2, 3 hours and so on. By doing this, your furry friend starts to feel confident that you’ll come back.Then, once you leave for work for a bigger chunk of time, they will already be used to it and feel more comfortable on their own.
Studies have shown that an action as simple as petting your dog or cat before you leave actually decreases their anxiety while you’re gone. Generally, dogs get nervous when you leave and those negative feelings worsen as more time passes. So, giving them this love and affection as you say goodbye could help them stay calm and lower their heart rate.
Sometimes, you can train your pet as much as you can to be without you but fact is, some just get bored. They want to play and be entertained but if you’re not home, they have no one to give them that attention. The result? Maybe some chewed on shoes, or even worse - walls. If your dog loves to chew, or chews to relieve stress, give them something that'll occupy them such as a chew stick. The flavor and activity will satisfy their urge and provide them with entertainment.
When you come home after your workday, it’s important not to overreact when you see your dog. We understand - you miss them and they miss you too, so it’s hard not to excite them as soon as you open the door. However, this can lead to a bunch of bad habits over time. They could start to jump on you (and other guests) as you enter, knock down anything you’re carrying, or bark excessively. The best thing you can do is be as calm as possible while entering and teach them to greet you in the same manner. Always remember to reward this good behavior!
Going back to work in the office won’t be out of the norm for just you. It will be a huge change for your furry friends too. Try your best to be patient with them as they work through this adjustment. Once you’re back home after a long day, you’ll both appreciate all the cuddles and playtime just a little bit more.
If you found this interesting, check out these related stories:
A Closer Look At Pet Anxiety
Tips For Calming Stressed Cats