What heading back to work means for our pets
As the lockdown is gradually lifted, it’s starting to feel as though life is getting back to normal. But, whilst this may be a time for relieving human stress and anxiety, the consequences might be slightly different for our furry friends. With that in mind, we’ve taken a look at some of the ways returning to work might affect pets’ behaviours and health, to help you take care of your own animals, and to help you answer some of your customers’ questions.
Social interaction is important for most pets, including dogs, rabbits and (believe it or not), cats. Dogs in particular have very human-like social needs and require time both with and without others. The sudden changes that have been necessitated by lockdown have seen us spend a lot more time in close proximity with our animals, and now that the lockdown is lifting, it’s important to make time to spend with pets – just like people, our relationship with animals is a two-way street.
This has been one of the major topics of conversation surrounding pets in the last month, and it’s important to consider. Our pets will have noticed the extra time we’ve spent with them and a sudden separation could be damaging to their wellbeing. Destructive behaviour
Like children, pets are likely to act out if they’re feeling anxious or insecure. Behaviours such as vocalising, destroying furniture or soiling the house are common in animals who are lonely, bored or anxious. Where possible, it’s useful to understand what’s motivating these behaviours. It might be emotional distress or we may actually be training these behaviours into our animals by giving them attention (albeit negative attention) when they do certain things.
How can we alleviate some of the stress?
Of course, every animal has their own unique personality, so adapting to their needs is important. However, as a guideline, here are what vets are recommending to adjust our animals to the new normal:
For dogs, routine is everything. Gradually increase time away from them by taking walks or outings without them, rather than going cold turkey. They’ll soon learn that being alone is OK and that you will come back!
- For cats, it’s more about feeling safe in their territory so the time you spend with or without them is less important (although you are the best judge of this!). In theory, as long as they know when and where their next meal is coming from, they’ll be happy.
- Try to keep your behaviour as consistent as possible. If you’ve been going out for walks at a certain time, or having cuddles on the sofa, try and still do these things.
- Negotiate options for flexible working or a pet-friendly workplace
- Start to adopt some of your normal “going to work” rituals again, even if you’re not going back yet. Your pets will notice your usual briefcase, work shoes, or the time of day and will understand when they can expect you back.
- Acclimatise pets to being away from you, even when you’re in the house. If you normally leave them in a crate or behind a child gate when you’re at the office, consider reinstating that sometimes even when working from home.
- Make sure your pet is getting lots of exercise and stimulation. Whether that’s playing with them, taking them on a long walk, or leaving them to roam in the garden, try to encourage them to entertain themselves and be independent.
How can you help your customers?
Along with these tips, there are a few things you can do to help your customers and their pets:
- Stock stimulating toys and accessories and puzzle food or treat bowls to help keep animals’ minds occupied when their owners are out.
- Comfy beds and blankets will also provide comfort to anxious animals and help to make their crates or the areas they live in feel like home when they’re on their own.
- Offer experiences or training sessions to give owners and pets some quality time together and to let animals socialise with each other.
Let us know what your customers have been asking and how you’ve been helping pets to readjust post-lockdown. Email us or contact us via social media.