How to prepare your pets for your return to work

A man sitting at a desk in his home office smiles down as his dog on his lap. The dog is looking up trying to lick his face.

Our pets used to be comfortable with being left at home while we trudged off to work. But now that many of us have been home with them for more than a year, are they ready to let us go?

Probably not. Your furry little friends will need some help adjusting to the fact that you’re returning to work in the outside world and won’t always be there for quick treats, multiple walks and lap naps.

The good news? We have some tips to help keep your pets stress-free.

A dog looks up expectantly at its human while she works at her home desk.

Start small

When you are teaching your kids to swim, you don’t just throw them in and hope that they float. Similarly, you should not throw your dog into the deep end of being alone all day after a year of you constantly being there for them. They are bound to experience separation anxiety.

So, try easing  your pets into your absence with small windows of alone time before you have to go back full time. Go to the office for an hour or two and then finish your day working from home. Or try a new coffee shop for a couple of hours each day and then bring a snack home for your pet.

After the first week, you can slowly begin increasing your time away from the house. This strategy will allow you to slowly help your little (or big) animal re-adapt to your previous lifestyle.

Consider a pet sitter

Many of us are slowly re-entering the workplace as time goes on, but there is a large portion of society that has adapted to this new work-at-home life and will remain remote for the time being.

Friends and family with all that flexibility might be willing to help you out. Consider asking them to visit your house during the day to spend some quality time with your pets.

Whether it’s a grandparent, a neighborhood kid interested in dog sitting or your next-door neighbor, there should be ample options for you to find a human to hang with your furry companions to help ease the transition.

Three smiling people walk a dog down a gravel path surrounded by trees.

Your pets need exercise!

For dogs, this should be more than a simple walk. Some off-the-leash play time would be more beneficial to release some of that pent up energy that could turn into anxiousness as you leave. For cats, exercise can involve a laser pointer, a toy mouse or anything they enjoy chasing around for 15 minutes.

Exercise for animals can be just as beneficial for their mental health as it is for humans, according to experts. Without exercise, your pets can develop aggressive behaviors and become more anxious. Exercise is an important part of keeping your pets physically strong and mentally healthy.

A cat sits on a counter and watches a television screen on the wall.

Videos for cats? They like TV too!

Would you leave your kids at home with no toys or source of entertainment? Probably not. So why would you leave your pets without something to keep them busy? Boredom leads to scratches on your couch, chewed up shoes and toppled garbage cans.

The next time you are heading out for a prolonged period, avoid the mess and leave something behind for your pets to keep them occupied, like a new toy, a treat they must work for or their favorite show on TV.

A couple in the front seat of a car look back smiling at a boy shaking the hand of a dog in the backseat.

Be a friend to your pet

When we’re burdened with the challenges of a global pandemic, it’s easy to forget that our pets have feelings too. But it’s important to recognize how your little buddies might be feeling day to day.

Just like us, our animals can feel anxious, sad, happy or depressed. Experts say mental health issues can present themselves in our pets through eating disorders, a lull in their energy or being withdrawn. How can we cheer them up?

Well, the answer can vary depending on the pet, but many will be just fine after some extra love and attention. If taking your dogs for a run in the park makes them happy, then do an extra one for them. If it’s a “pup cup” at your favorite coffee joint or some fries from the fast-food drive-thru, make it two!

Monitoring your animals and how they are feeling during the transition will help you have a happier companion when you are home.

All of this is important for keeping your pets safe and your home happy! Looking for more helpful tips? Check out more blogs at Amway Connections.

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