Many pets have gotten used to their owners being home all the time, but all that extra togetherness is changing as lockdown restrictions lift and people return to their workplaces.
A recent survey by Rover.com finds 58% of pet owners are concerned about their dog experiencing separation anxiety when they go back to work.
Veterinary behaviorist Dr. Amy Pike says it’s important to start prepping your pets in advance. She suggests owners stick to a workday routine, use an area separate from the pet, and practice departures.
“You can go on a walk by yourself, you can go run errands without your pet. You know, you need to remind them that we do in fact leave the home occasionally,” Dr. Pike says.
Giving a reward-oriented toy or food when you leave the house is also a good way to make your departure a positive time in your pet’s day.
Experts say it’s important to know how to spot potential signs of stress in your pet, which typically start with a change in behavior. “For cats, we can actually see elimination outside the box. They might actually poop or pee in your house where they weren’t doing that normally,” Dr. Pike says.
Dogs may experience:
- Scratching at the door
- Chewing or clawing items
- Potty accidents
Dr. Pike recommends using a pet camera to monitor behavior, and consider hiring a dog walker to break up the day. Experts say to remember to enjoy the time you do have with your pets, since it can lower your stress level, too.