DENVER (KDVR) — As Coloradans slowly return to the office after almost a year of working from home, many are worried about their pets’ reactions to this change.
Denver Animal Protection is giving some advice to pet owners on overcoming the challenges ahead when returning to in-person work. Mostly, DAP is concerned pet owners will give up their pets for adoption when their animals start acting out.
Here are some ways you can help your pet adjust to your new routine.
Create a routine
Creating a routine surrounding your work schedule can help your pet adjust. “Dogs and cats can be creatures of habit so you can help them with the change by creating a routine. Make that routine as close to your new work schedule as possible,” said DAP animal behavioral specialist Erin Wyse. Wyse also mentioned to avoid walking and feeding your pet during your normal work hours.
Take anxiety out of your departure
According to DAP, slowly working up to long absences is the way to go. Start with two to three hours, and gradually work up to your normal office time. DAP recommends giving your pet a treat before you leave, so they associate your absence with a reward.
Keep them engaged
DAP suggests giving your pet something to do while you are away. Wyse has a specific tip for dog owners. “One good trick is to put bits of kibble into a muffin tin, then cover up some of the filled cups with balls or toys,” said Wyse. “Your dog has to bat away the ball or toy to get to the food. It triggers their hunting instincts, which releases pheromones and keeps his or her mind engaged.” Keeping the TV on, playing music, or letting your pet see outside may also combat loneliness.
Give them exercise
Playing with your pet before you leave work can burn off extra energy. For dogs, going for a walk or playing a game of fetch before you leave can make a big difference. Doggie daycare, or hiring a dog walker are good options as well.
Look for signs of stress
Spotting signs of distress in your pet will be important during this time of transition. In dogs, stress manifests as pacing, barking, excessive chewing, accidents around the home, and attempts to escape. In cats, stress shows through excessive meowing, aggression, accidents around the home, hiding and excessive scratching. DAP encourages pet owners to work through these issues with their pets, as they act out of fear and stress. DAP suggests making sure to be calm around your animals, and to give them extra love when you return from work.
Talk to your vet
If these tips aren’t helping your pet, DAP says to see a veterinarian. There are medications vets can offer to ease anxiety and stress in your pet during this time of transition.
According to DAP, it takes about four weeks for pets to adjust to new schedules. Make sure to be patient with yourself, and your pet.