Returning to the Workplace:
As society starts slowly reopening from the coronavirus shut down, some people will begin returning to work outside the home and must leave behind pets that became accustomed to their ongoing companionship. Pet owners returning to work outside of the home will likely be concerned how their pets will handle the sudden separation. Some pets may become depressed or destructive because their owner is no longer around full time. If you plan to be returning to work outside of the home, here are some suggestions to get your pets accustomed to your absence.
- Before your work schedule begins, start taking absences from the home so your pet can get used to being alone again. Go for a drive, take a walk, or engage in any other activities where you can still practice social distancing and comply with local health orders. Begin with just a brief absence and gradually increase the length of time that you are gone. It is important that you remain calm and relaxed both when you leave your home and return, so your pet doesn’t associate your coming and going with something to be anxious about.
- Provide puzzle toys for your pets. Puzzle toys take your pets’ mind off your absence and are great mental stimulation. Your dog will enjoy a puzzle toy that can be filled with treats. These can occupy a dog for hours as they attempt to dislodge the treats. For added length of puzzle time, add peanut butter (without xylitol, which is toxic to pets), canned dog food, low fat cream cheese, or other goodies inside the treat and freeze it before giving it to your dog. There are many puzzle games for cats that take advantage of their prey drive to chase and capture moving objects. Options for both dogs and cats can be found at local pet stores or on any online pet toy website.
- Make sure your pet is getting plenty of exercise. Try to build a brisk 30-minute walk for your dog into your schedule before you leave the home, or play an engaging game of fetch, tug of war, or other activity that will burn off any excess energy your dog has. Cats will enjoy chasing laser pointer beams or playing with many cat toys that encourage jumping.
- If your pet is an only pet and enjoys the company of other animals, consider adopting a friend for it at one of the Los Angeles County Animal Care Centers (or any other animal shelter). Your pet cat and its new buddy can play together when you’re gone, and you will have made a huge difference in the life of a homeless animal.
- If you are not able to bring an additional pet into your home your dog instead might benefit from going to a doggie day care in your absence. Thoroughly research the facility and take a tour in advance to make sure it is suitable for your dog. DACC inspects all animal facilities in its jurisdiction and provides grades to them similar to Los Angeles County’s restaurant grading system.
- Find someone to stop by your home during the day to play with your pets or walk your dog. There are many qualified pet sitting companies, or even a trusted friend or neighbor might be able and willing to do this for you.
- Always ensure that your pet is wearing its collar and tags whenever you are away in the event it escapes your home or yard to look for you. Keep your pet’s license up to date to prevent any citations or fines for failing to comply with pet licensing laws. Microchip your pet, and make certain that you contact information is current with the microchip registry. All of these precautions are necessary to ensure you and your lost pet can be successfully reunited.
- If your pet has serious separation anxiety that cannot be remediated with these suggestions, consult a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB or ACAAB), your veterinarian, or a board-certified veterinary behaviorist (Dip ACVB).
Returning to work outside the home can go smoothly if well-planned. What will you do to ensure a smooth transition for your pets?