Did you know 80% of pet parents feel less lonely due to their pets companionship? It’s no wonder so many people love being around their pets as much as possible – especially during times of isolation due to the coronavirus. More than 23 million American households — nearly 1 in 5 nationwide — adopted a pet during the pandemic, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). With the number of pet parents working from home, our four-legged friends have been reaping the benefits of love and attention more than ever before. However, with the world returning to the office, more owners are experiencing the side effects of their “pandemic pets” – including codependency and separation anxiety.
- Crate training – whether you are home, overnight, or while you’re out of the house – can help provide your pet with a safe space that is not directly associated with your presence. This space can help them feel secure while keeping your pets, and your home, safe in your absence.
- Encouraging self-soothing and individual play can help them maintain healthy coping mechanisms, as well. Try freezing peanut butter in a Kong and placing it in their crate or a separate room from you. The mental stimulation will wear them out while teaching them that space away from you isn’t always a bad thing. Enrichment-based toys will help them feel more confident in keeping themselves entertained.
- Try different calming products. These products should be introduced slowly and in an environment they are comfortable in. By trying these tricks while you’re home, your animal will have a positive association with them in order to cope while you’re away.
Back to the Office
Picture it: you are finally going back to the office. You’re excited to see your coworkers and get back into the swing of things! Yet, you’re not as happy since you’ll be leaving your animals home alone. What can you do to prepare your dog or cat for the new routine?
Transitioning Your Schedule
It’s important to acclimate your animal to the impending changes in routine. When working on your pet’s independence, here are various steps to consider:
- Start spending more time away from the house without your pet. Begin with short trips outside the home, slowly increasing your trips to accommodate your normal work schedule.
- Keep your comings and goings low key! Overstimulating a pet by drawing out goodbyes or being overly excited when you return can inadvertently train your pet to become anxious when separated.
- Take note on when you normally go on walks, feed meals, or instigate playtime. Gradually begin altering the timing of these daily events to better suit your new normal. Dogs specifically are creatures of habit. By preemptively making these changes your pet will avoid any unnecessary stress.
- If your pet is young or has never been left to free-roam the house, you may want to consider crate training. Crate training can be taught to create a safe, relaxing space in your home for your pet to wind down in during the day. It can also save you excessive damage to your home if your pet experiences high level anxiety when you’re gone.
Separation Anxiety Awareness
Identifying separation anxiety in your pet is the first step to conquering their codependence. If your dog is having a hard time decompressing when you leave the house, they may have separation anxiety. Other symptoms consist of vocalization, destructive behavior, and accidents in the house. Never fear! There are ways to help a dog conquer separation anxiety and leave you feeling confident in going on trips outside the home. While their signs, symptoms, and treatment vary from dog-to-dog – separation anxiety in cats has proved to be a relevant issue, as well. It is just as vital to help them decompress in your absence.
Some of the more serious consequences stem from the destructive nature separation anxiety can trigger. A dog or cat’s anxiety can turn into compulsive behaviors. These obsessive tendencies can turn into an emergency vet trip if pet parents aren’t careful. Foreign body ingestion, toxicity from lethal foods, and other household dangers can pose a threat to pets – and your wallet. Ensuring that your pets are protected and comfortable enough to be left alone is the foundation for good pet ownership.
Embrace Pet Insurance believes in preparing pet owners so that they can be the person their pet thinks they are: the best. Embrace is ranked the #1 pet insurance provider by Forbes and offers nose-to-tail coverage for cats and dogs. Whether it's accident, illness, or a wellness visit, their customizable plans work for any budget or lifestyle.
Burning That Extra Energy
The old saying “a tired dog is a good dog” rings truer than most! Animals that receive adequate mental and physical enrichment are more likely to be happier and well adjusted. It can be hard to maintain your pet’s normal stimulus when you’re back at the office. For dogs, enrolling your pup in a local doggy daycare for one or two days out of the week can be a real game changer. At a proper daycare, your pet will have consistent training, safe exposure to other dogs, and come home tired from a long day of playing.
If daycare isn’t in the cards, there are plenty of enrichment options to keep your cat active as well as your dog mentally stimulated. Cognitive challenges, such as puzzle feeders or treat dispensers, are the ideal choice.
The Importance of Quality Time
Animals thrive based on the bonds we form with them. These bonds are forged through the care, training, and time spent between the pet parent and their furry companion. Spending lots of quality time with your pet when you are home will help solidify the love and trust between you. Cuddling, grooming, and steady training are pillars for a happy, healthy, well-balanced dog. Healthy attachment styles, coupled with consistent training and set expectations for when you’re gone, will have you and your pet adjusted to your new routine in no time.
There is no doubt that we love being home with our animals as much as they do; nevertheless, instituting these boundaries will help set you and your pets up for success – And as always, Embrace has your back.