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Tuesday, July 21, 2020

8 Tips for Helping Your Pet Adjust When You Stop Working From Home

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2020 has been an unusual year for many. A lot of people spent significant time working from home, avoiding socializing, and in general spending the majority of their time at home. The rapid change in lifestyle wasn't easy for a lot of us. Children and adults all struggled to come to terms with the new normal. One group that enjoyed the new normal? Our pets. Most pets love nothing more than being with their humans, and the requirements of social distancing meant most humans were home more than ever before. As society reopens and people start going back to work and resuming a more typical schedule, it will be our animals who struggle to adjust to a normal that doesn't include their favorite people ready to take them for a romp on the playground equipment whenever they wished.

1. Start slow. Leave for a few minutes at a time and slowly extend length, especially if your dog is prone to separation anxiety.

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Try not to go from being home 24/7 to being gone 40/5! A severe schedule shift back into the old routine of being gone at least forty hours a week plus commute time is going to make it hard for your favorite furry buddy to adjust.

2. Use treats like frozen peanut butter to occupy your dog while you leave.

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Bored pets often turn into destructive pets. Ask anyone who has ever left a dog at home with an intact sofa and then came home to a frame and a living room full of stuffing! How can you save your sofa and your pet's sanity? Find safe ways for them to stay occupied while you are gone. Things like puzzle toys that dispense treats will keep them engaged while you are away.

3. Do not make a big deal about leaving. Act casually and calmly.

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Most pets are very in tune with their humans' feelings. If you are stressed and going back for one last kiss, they are going to pick up on it and become more anxious themselves. Leave the house calmly, and say your goodbyes in a level yet cheerful tone of voice.

4. Start working towards a normalized schedule.

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Going from being home basically all the time back to the five day work week is a tough adjustment for everyone. If it all possible, try and ease into it for the sake of your pets and your mental wellbeing. Even if you aren't actually leaving the house, getting up at the time you'll need to for work, feeding your pets, talking to them, and in all possible ways mimicking their schedule when you work out of the home will help them adjust.

5. Make before you leave and after you return fun.

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We all need joy in our lives. Before you leave, make sure your dog has had a walk, exercise, and attention from you (and yes, I know how hard that can be in the mornings!). When you return, let your pet know you are excited to see them, give them attention, and let them burn off some energy.

6. Make sure your pet is getting lots of exercise.

Photo by mattycoulton (pixabay)

A tired pet is a happy pet. A couple of quick walks might not be enough stimulation or activity for your pet to stay mentally and physically healthy. Toys, walks, and romps in the backyard will make your pet feel loved and secure, and ensure they are getting enough activity. Is your backyard not the pet paradise you'd like it to be? Check out local outdoor play equipment companies and stores for shade structures, slides, and other ideas to make your backyard functional for all members of your family.

7. Create a backup plan.

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Traffic jams, work emergencies, and other minor catastrophes happen to all of us. Make sure you have a contingency plan for what you will do if you can't get home at a reasonable time to care for your pet. Could a neighbor, friend, family member dash over to let them out, scratch their ears, and make sure they have food and water until you get home?

8. Consider pet care options.

Photo by zoegammon (pixabay)

One way to ensure backup pet care is to hire someone to provide pet care. There are apps available to connect service providers with pet parents. Other popular methods for finding pet care include checking with your veterinarian or pet groomer for recommendations.

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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