Are you worried about your pets and returning to work after the pandemic? Hopefully, this article will help you settle your pets. I have even got tips for how to make the owners feel better.
Pets and Coming out of the Pandemic
Have you considered how your pets may be affected when you return to work after the pandemic? Is this photo of Riley how you feel about going back to work? It isn't just the actual work, but having to fit in all the house stuff as well. Have you been really busy at home for the last few months? I know I have.
Time is a strange concept, especially this year. On one hand, time has disappeared, but on the other hand it is as if time has stayed still. All was going well until March. Since then there has been uncertainty about whether is it safe to go out, what we are allowed to do and what the World Health Organisation and the UK Government are advising. I don’t know if I am coming or going.
I thought I should write an article about pets and coming out the pandemic. There are things that pet owners can do to help the pets adjust to the changes. Obviously this is a tough one for any pet owner as the future is still unknown. Hopefully you will have some warning before the changes happen.
I’m not too fond of the term ‘new normal’ as I don’t know which part is normal. Also, not seeing people doesn’t feel like normal and I don’t want to accept it as such. So writing an article on how to help pets while we are coming out of the pandemic is difficult as the exact process of starting to open the country isn't clear. Feels a bit crazy at the moment.
The pandemic can’t just be stopped or an end date given. Clear guidelines can’t be set. In fact, during the pandemic, the guidelines haven’t been clear, succinct or decisive. I am expecting the guidelines for coming out will be much the same. (Don’t worry this is the end of my political viewpoint.)
Current Position with the Pandemic
Lockdown is being lifted cautiously. What this means is non essential shops will be opening and people will be returning to work all whilst social distancing. This may be flexible and gradual; if the r rate rises then another lockdown may be possible.
An example is that schools were open for year 1 and 6 children, but then the r rate in the North West was 1.1 so a week later, the schools closed. At the time of writing, they are still closed but this will be reviewed.
Clear as mud. The returning to normal, will vary on peoples’ health, their occupation, the local area and the incidents of Covid-19 .
Pet Owners Plans after the Pandemic
So there isn’t a definite plan or timescale. That’s ok though as whatever happens, we can work together to make things easier and less of a shock for your pets.
The first thing that you should do is to consider what may happen for you in the future. Will you be returning to an office full time? Or for part time? Or will things be the same with you working from home? Then you can work towards the end target.
Build up Pets Alone Time
Consider how you can make the changes gradually. For example if you are going to be out all day, try to extend the time you are out of the house now. Take longer walks or have less interaction with your pets.
Dogs will need the time left alone built up slowly as separation anxiety may be an issue. Even though cats are less prone to this, it may still happen.
Now you know I like to provide activities for pets while I look after them. You can too! Mental stimulation is great for keeping your pets busy and happy. This can take place in the form of toys, activity feeders and puzzles.
If you want to know more, please see my previous article, how I entertain cats on a visit. Since I wrote this, there are a lot more options available on the market including ball tracks,like this one.
Background noise can help the pet feel less lonely so leave a radio or television on.
Make sure your pet has access to somewhere it feels safe. For dogs, it may be a bed in a certain room. For cats it may be a box behind the sofa or by the front door. You will know what your pet prefers and it may mean making sure certain doors are left open so they can access their favourite place.
Some pets may have a special toy that they are attached to and helps them feel calm. Make sure this is always available to them.
As always, ensure that your pet has the chance to display natural behaviour plus what they are used to doing.
If they have the free run of the house, keep this the same and don’t lock them in one part of the house. If this is going to be the case when you go back to work, start putting them in that section of the house on their own for short periods of time, gradually increasing it.
Another example is for cats having the ability to scratch. They do this to keep their nails short and as part of scent marking. A tall cat tree is best as they like to stretch when scratching. (Although saying this, they may also take a fancy to scratching your sofa.)
If you need more help or advice, please feel free to contact me.
New Pet during Lockdown?
If you got a new pet during lockdown, they may still be adjusting to their new routine and home. Try to keep to a routine that you will be able to keep to and will be the same when you return to work.
Don't forget to keep up any training! It is easy to slip into bad habits but it is worth the effort in the long run.
If your pet needs more entertainment or company during the day, have you got a friend or family member that can pop in? Alternatively, pet sitters (like myself) would be glad to help. This may only be on an interim basis or for longer days until the pet gets used to the new lifestyle.
Flexibility is Important
It may be a case of trial and error during the adjusting period. This is just as important for humans as well as the pets. This was an unexpected situation so we were not able to plan for it; it is the same for coming out of the situation.
Try not to change too much at once. Little changes, gradually works best for most pets (and some humans like myself).
Signs of Stress
Watch your pets’ behaviour to see how they are feeling. Are they showing signs of stress, anxiousness, frustration or displeasure? This may vary on the species and the nature of your pet. I did cover this at the beginning of the pandemic in this article ‘Pets during self isolation’. This article also includes supplements that can be purchased that may help.
If your pet is unhappy, or showing signs of distress, please contact your vet for advice.
Some pets may take a while to get used to masks. It is worth the owner wearing one at home for the pet to get used to. Dogs may be sensitive to this
Easing the Pet Owners Worries
Not only is separation difficult for the pets, but the owners too. Pets are family and we worry about how they are coping with things, especially with change.
When you start to leave your pets, listen at the door ten minutes after you have left the house and try and look through the window. Do the same before you go back in.
Another idea is to have a camera so you can see what they are doing. A couple of my customers have them and I think it is a great idea. It means you have peace of mind as you can see how they are doing.
Think about what your pet does now as a daily routine and what it may look like in the future. It is a case of bridging the two scenarios.
Consider grooming, sleeping, playing, outside time, walks and human interaction. Also think about what you do that may change. For example, not just being in the house but if you have the television on, if you feed extra meals/treats to your pet, sleep routines.
I hope returning to normal works well for you with not too much disruption for your pets. They will most likely be fine but I always find it is best to be prepared and make things as easy as possible for them.