You may be planning to return to your workplace after having spent time working remotely at home. Many pets will have enjoyed the increased interaction and companionship of having family members at home, so how can you help your pets adapt to when you are back at work?
Some pets, especially dogs, may suffer from separation anxiety which is one of the most common behavioural issues in dogs. Being social creatures, dogs love company, and separation anxiety involves the dog becoming anxious, distressed or destructive when left alone.
Ideally, you need to teach your dog how to be calm and relaxed when you are away from home. This might involve changes in how you interact with your dog, changes in leaving and returning routines, teaching your dog how to be comfortable alone as well as other changes to their environment.
Whilst you are still at home, take advantage of this time to implement some strategies to help your pet transition to your return to working away from your home. Dogs enjoy routine, so when preparing to leave your home, keep your departure low key and minimise interaction with your pet in the 20 minutes prior to leaving.
It can also be useful to vary your routine, and leave play toys, or toys filled with treats, to keep your pet busy and help them associate your departure with a pleasant experience. Physical exercise with your pet before you leave will also help, as a morning walk can help them expend energy and relax.
When you return home, reward your dog for good behaviour, and if your dog is displaying any bad behaviours such as jumping up, then ignore the pet until they calm down. An evening walk can also help to keep your pet stimulated and use up excess energy.
If you are busy and likely to be away from home for extended periods of the day, then take advantage of local dog walking services, or book your pet into doggy day-care – once these services resume. You may also have family members or friends who could assist with looking after your pet, or exercising them whilst you are away at work.
If you have any concerns about your pet, or are worried that they may be displaying signs of separation anxiety, then speak with your veterinarian for further advice specific to your pet.
Separation anxiety is a medical problem that requires a veterinarian to put together an appropriate treatment plan, which can involve a combination of medication, behavioural modification and changes to environmental factors. Your vet will also be able to provide a referral to a veterinary behaviour specialist if needed.