There have been many joys with the “stay at home” order and one has been the delight of extra time spent with our pets. They have made us laugh and have kept us company throughout this ordeal.
But as restrictions are slowly lifted, our faithful friends may become confused by the changes ahead. They have all become accustomed to the extra snuggles and hugs over the past months, and now they may even be a little over-dependent on us.
If your pet had anxiety issues before lockdown, you can expect him to have them when you go back to your regular routine. If your pet didn’t have them before quarantine, that’s great, but even so, most pets will benefit from easing into a new routine.
Signs of anxiety to look for would include barking, howling, whining, meowing, changes in appetite, over-grooming, chewing, scratching, and other destructive behaviors. None of us want our buddies to stress out, so it’s in everyone’s best interest to slowly get our pets comfy as we transition to our new schedules.
Here are some ideas to help your pets get on board with the changes ahead:
Start with “no attention” periods. Put your pet in his crate if you use one, or you can go into another room and close the door for a bit. Do this for short periods several times each day. Depending on how your pet reacts, it may be as little as a few minutes to start but gradually increase the no attention periods just a little bit. Make sure your pet has a safe, comfy spot to relax in. You may want to give him a toy or stuffed Kong to occupy him for a while; this will help teach Fido that alone time can be fun. After a few minutes or so, let him out and give him a hug (don’t go overboard). Even if your pet whines a bit, leave him be, as long as he is not destructive.
Start instituting the leave for work routine you used to keep. Maybe you took a shower, had breakfast, fed the pets, let them out, grabbed your keys, and left. Start doing that again, even if you don’t have any place to go yet. Take a short walk or drive. When you come back if things look ok, give your pet a treat and a hug and move on, don’t make a big deal out of your return.
Every day on top of the leave for work routine, start leaving them alone. Go for another drive, a bike ride, or go to a park and read a book. Start small, just a few minutes but gradually increase the time you’re gone.
If your pet had anxiety before or seems over the top now, you may want to have your dog wear a ThunderShirt or play some classical music to help your pet stay calm. If your pet needs more help talk to your vet about medications or CBD to help him relax. Remember, our pets feed off our emotions so do all of the steps above with a calm, happy demeanor.
We are happy to help you in any way your pet needs. We will take Fido on walks or have a playtime in the backyard if that helps. We do the same for cats; we’ll have a playtime, treats, and some snuggles to help them with the routine changes.
Start this now, even if you’re not back to your old routine yet. The more slowly you work into this, the less stress we’ll all have!