How to alleviate separation anxiety and stress in pets post-COVID-19 quarantine
Your pets may find it hard to re-adjust to life post isolation lock-down
With the COVID-19 isolation restrictions starting to ease, our lives are slowing beginning to return to the old routines we used to have. We're allowed out to do more than the 'essentials' and many people are returning to their workplace.
Some companies have seen the benefits of their employees working from home and keeping them working like this for a bit longer until offices open.
If you're a pet owner, this is excellent news!
Pets would have been loving the fact that their owner has been home with them. They've had your company 24/7 and would have become used to you being there with them, feeding them, walking them, playing with them and talking to them throughout the day.
It's been a pet's paradise.
As pet parents are starting to return to work, your pet is likely to be affected by the change of routine. Depending on your situation, your pet may experience separation anxiety from you.
What are the signs that your pet is experiencing separation anxiety?
Here are some of the signs that your pet may be experiencing separation anxiety. Even though you're out of your home and may not see these first-hand, you may have your neighbours let you know, or you'll notice some signs within your house:
Excessing barking or howling (you may hear your dog when you return home, or your neighbours may pop over to let you know)
Having 'accidents' that they usually wouldn't as you know they are fully house trained
Scratching at doors and windows, eating through walls (it's happened!), chewing your personal items and destroying things like cushions and shoes
Pacing up and down and trying to escape (watch out when you open your door!)
So, let's look at some practices you can put into place to help your fur babies cope with the transition away from you.
The top 4 ways to help your pets deal with separation anxiety
1. Give them treats:
You need to be careful that you're not 'rewarding' destructive behaviour but giving your pet treats when you leave can help them deal with your absence. Make sure that you give it to them just before you go and take it away as soon as you arrive home. Items like the Kong range where you can fill the middle of a chew toy with a treat are perfect for keeping your pet amused for a while.
2. Don't fuss about leaving:
Your pet will pick up on your both your anxiety and your excited state too! You need to make your coming and going as low-key as possible. As you leave, don't make a big deal of hugging your pets and paying too much attention to them. Leave as you usually would. When you return home, don't rush at them with hugs. Go about your regular business, taking off shoes, changing etc. and then greet your pet with your natural affection.
3. Leave your scent:
If your pet is having issues with you being gone, you can try leaving one of your jumpers or a t-shirt on their bed for them. Make sure it's a used one (not freshly washed) as they'll pick up on your scent and be comforted by this. If you find this working, you may lose that jumper as they'll want to keep it!
4. Calming supplements:
As a last resort, some pet owners find that calming supplements work. These can either be administered, or there are some forms of plugins that work well too. It's always best that you ask your vet about these before you give
You can also consider hiring a pet minder to help you transition out of isolation
Pet Sitters International (PSI), a leading global organisation, is encouraging all pet owners to consider using a professional pet minder to help both you and your fur baby to transition out of isolation. And if you do decide to use a pet-sitter, they're not someone you necessarily need to keep on long-term.
To start, they could stay at your house during the day, in effect, replacing your presence while you're working. Professional pet-sitters will go about their own routine in your home while taking care of your pet (feeding, walking, etc.).
You may then wish to cut down on the hours your pet-sitter is at your house. This will slowly allow your pet to get used to having company but in shorter bursts. You could try mornings and afternoons and see what works better and cut down the visits to an hour.
After a while, you can cut down further until your pet has adjusted to having no company again during the day.
Of course, you and your pet may fall in love with the pet-sitter and keep them on! How I can help you and your pets' transition back into the working world
As a professional pet-sitter with over 10 years' experience, I've seen stressed-out pets, especially when their parents leave for holidays. And with you having been home with you for a couple of months now, they're likely to think you've gone away and left them!
I can help your pet adjust to post COVID-19 isolation by being their companion when you leave. I'll make sure they're fed and walked and have their favourite toys to play with. As your pet gets used to you going, we can work together to reduce the time I'm needed until they are once again accustomed to staying alone during the day.
Pet separation anxiety is a serious matter to deal with, but it is manageable.
Let's help you and your fur babies to transition back to normality. Please feel free to contact me for more details. If you've any further tips to share, please feel free to share them below in the comments.