As the state of Indiana begins to re-open, it’s important to try to get back to normal as much as possible. Your pets have grown used to having you around 24/7, but it may be time to transition them back to the way things were before the lockdown. Going from having you around all the time, to only seeing you in the mornings and evenings can be stressful for some pets. During this uncertain time, knowledge is power! Here are some helpful tips on how to make the transition back to normal as smooth as possible:
1. Maintain a schedule
Dogs are creatures of habit and prefer to have their lives be as predictable as possible. It’s crucial to establish a routine to get your dog comfortable when it’s time for you to get back to work. Routine creates predictability, which can reduce stress and give you a sense of control as well. Waking up at the same time, feeding your dog at the same time, and having their bathroom breaks at the same time can help with keeping things predictable for your dog. If you had a dog walker before, keep that up! Your dog will love to be able to socialize with their other dog friends and meet new people.
2. Manage the anxiety before it happens
If your pup is prone to separation anxiety, it is a good idea to start getting them used to you being away for when it’s time to get back to work. Go through the routine you usually do before leaving for work, but don’t leave the house on the first go around. Slowly build up to leaving for short periods, and don’t forget to reward your dog with a treat whenever you go and come back! They will begin to create an association with you leaving for something positive! Giving them their favourite toy to play with can also be an added bonus.
3. Be observant
When you are ready to get to the point of leaving the house for longer periods of time, you can set up a camera inside of your home in a spot where you can view your dog’s reaction to you leaving. No dog wants to see their owner walk out of the door, but if they calm down quickly, it will give you the peace of mind knowing they will be okay when you aren’t there. If you notice they exhibit bad behaviour and perhaps even destructive, you may want to consult your veterinarians’ opinion on medication.
4. Create a safe space
Your dog should have a safe space to call their own somewhere in your house. Whether it’s a crate with warm blankets or a dog bed purchased from your local pet store, your dog should have a place to be able to retreat and relax. It would be best if you encouraged them to use this space by giving them high value treats when they spend time there. Providing them with a Kong full of their favourite treat (such a frozen peanut butter) will keep them busy and stimulated while you’re away. You can also provide them with clothing that has your scent on it to give them an extra sense of security.
5. Keep them stimulated!
Keeping your dog stimulated during the day will allow them to rest easy later on in the afternoons and evenings. Stimulation is important for cats too! They need to be able to act on their natural instincts to hunt and scratch. Giving your pet mental and physical stimulation allows them to stay busy and out of trouble! Scent work, learning new commands, and keeping up their routine with a dog walker can help lower their stress levels, which means you’ll end up with a happy pet!
As pet care businesses slowly re-open, it’s essential to inform yourself about the new procedures and preventative measures that are the most current and up to date. While it may be some time before things can truly go back to the way they were, embracing the changes and this new way of life is necessary to keep us all safe and healthy.