Are our pets about to suffer major anxiety when we return to work?

As a human being, 2020 was likely among the most memorable years of your life for all the wrong reasons. Lockdown, incomes being ruined, health systems falling apart at the seams, and the prospect of even worse to come. For most, a year spent indoors was like being in prison – impossible to enjoy any kind of legitimate standard of life. However, today, one major issue that exists is the fact that while we hated lockdown, it’s pretty likely that our pets loved it!

So, as the owner of a pet, you might be about to notice some pretty major separation anxiety issues when you return to the office. If your pet has grown used to having you at home for the last year, they might take it especially hard when you start vanishing for 8-odd hours per day. What, then, can you do to try and help your pet through this tough time?

While you might be relishing a return to slight normality, your pet will be dreading it. What can you do, then?

Introduce the change slowly

Assuming your work can manage this, you should try and make your return staggered. So, one or two half-days in the office, followed by one or two full days the next week. Work on that schedule slowly, building up the days where you here and you are not. Your pet will begin to wonder what is going on, but won’t be quite as alarmed as if you just started vanishing full-time again!

Make it up to them later

When you do have free time, such as evenings or weekends, you should really make an effort to have fun together. Your pet will love the time spent together even more, and it helps them to know that they aren’t the reason you are leaving the house. If you are still as loving and caring for them as you were during lockdown when you are home, this can combat anxiety.

Give them a big treat

A useful way to help them handle the challenge and anxiety is a new toy. A grandiose scratching post or a delightful range of balls, chew toys, and cuddly friends can be just what your dog is looking for. If nothing else, it might give them a distraction during the day so that you don’t have to worry about your pet running the place as it cannot handle your not being at home any longer.

Never punish for acting out

The worst thing to do, though, is to punish your pet if they do act out. They are feeling the loss of the time you had together and are taking it hard, so be there for them. Avoid punishment if they act out, instead looking to find a way to help them through the issue.

Punishment will upset the pet and make it hard for them to return to any kind of normality. While going to massive extremes in terms of praise might not very useful, nor will using a ‘stern hand’ to talk them down.