With many preparing to come out of lockdown, you may be a little nervous about readjusting to life as we knew it before. Coming out of lockdown will have an impact on your pets too. Not only will you be changing your daily routine, but your pets may have to as well. This can lead to confusion, anxiety, and shock. We want to help you with that transition with some helpful tips to help you and your pet smoothly adjust to the easing of lockdown.
Adjustments should be made gradually for both dogs and cats. Be sure to watch your pet's behaviour to make sure that they are not becoming too stressed. Pets should be rewarded for successes in adjustments by providing plenty of praise for desired behaviours and treats. If you notice your pet becoming too stressed with separation anxiety when trying to implement your adjustments, I recommend contacting an animal behaviourist to for support on how to best proceed.
Tips for helping your dog or cat adjust to post lockdown
-Gradually begin to change your routine to what it was before. This may mean a gradual change of feeding, walking, and play times. Try changing just 1 of these routines at a time to avoid an overload of stress to your pet.
-You probably have been walking your dog a lot more during lockdown which is now what your dog is used to. This may have to change and you want to do this slowly. Many dogs and puppies have become very used to the constant attention and presence of you being around at home. Gradually change the times and durations of your walks to what they will need to be. You may also need to change the location of your walks.
-Dogs and puppies now more than ever will experience some level of separation anxiety. This can be confusing and frustrating as your dog will have become comfortable with you being at home for a large amount of time. This is where teaching your dog that being alone is not a bad thing. This can be tricky and easier said than done.
-For separation anxiety, you will need to slowly decrease the amount of play and attention you give your dog. This will help them get used to you not being around to play whenever they want. This does not mean you should just give them the cold shoulder. Instead, give your dog or puppy something they really enjoy that they can do on their own. This could be providing them with a comfy crate or bed as their own personal space to settle. You could also give them their favorite chew, food puzzle, or toy to play with on their own. Kongs filled with frozen peanut butter make a perfect boredom buster.
-Practicing going back to work may be difficult due to stay at home orders and government guidelines. But there are some ways you can do this to get your dog back into the swing of things. Time out of the house will help your dog transition smoothly into the idea that you will be gone at work for some time, and that's ok. One way of doing this is to go on a walk or run for exercise alone without your dog. You could also go sit in your front/back garden (out of sight of your dog) or in your car. Use this time to listen to music, read a book, or another quiet activity of your choice. Remember to start with short durations and gradually increase the times.
-Returning to work may mean also hiring a dog walker or pet pop in service provider. That way your dog can get the exercise and attention they need in your absence. This will help to reduce stress and problematic behaviours. Young puppies will also need to be let out frequently for toilet breaks to avoid accidents. No one wants to come home after a long day of work to clean up piles of poop! Bluebell Pet Care covers Ashford, Kent and surrounding villages. We offer walks and pop in visits in 30 minute and 1 hour durations. For those with super energetic pooches, we can also offer hiking adventures!
-Gradually begin to change your routine to what it was before. This may mean a gradual change of feeding, grooming, and play times. Try changing just 1 of these routines at a time to avoid an overload of stress to your cat. Most cats are just fine being independent. Watch your cat's behaviour closely to gauge the pace of your changes.
-Your cat will probably be used to the extra attention you have been giving them. You will need to slowly decrease the amount of play and attention you give your cat to help them transition. This process will help them get used to you not being around all the time. Make sure you have a cozy and comfortable hide or area for your cat to be comfortable in while you are away.
-Toys such as feed puzzles and a scratching post are wonderful at keeping your cat busy and less focused on your absence. Beds attached or near a window offer visual enrichment as they can watch nature and the outside world. If you are still worried about them being home alone for that long (maybe you will be late one night from the office) you might consider hiring a pet sitter that offers a pop in service. This allows your cat to receive a check in visit as well as some attention.
Life has been changed forever due to the pandemic for many. It has changed our routines and way of working. We all want to return to life as normal again quickly, but these things will take time. Pets will not understand why these ways are changing so we need to do this with care and patience.
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