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Returning to Normal with Your Pets

 
RETURNING TO NORMAL
WITH YOUR PETS

Your pets have genuinely enjoyed spending extra time with you since you've been sheltering at home. Now that restrictions are lightening up, it might be time for you to venture into the world and return to the office. How will your dog or cat adjust? Tom Van Winkle, Executive Director of the Hinsdale Humane Society, shared what pet owners can do to help. Here are 10 tips for making the transition back to normal as smooth as possible.

1
WATCH FOR SIGNS OF ANXIETY

Your pets aren't mad; they're just relieving their stress. Signs of anxiety include:

  • Hiding more or withdrawing.
  • Chewing on shoes or clothes that have your scent.
  • Going to the bathroom where they shouldn't.
  • Scratching and tearing up new locations.
2
IT'S OKAY FOR YOUR PETS
TO BE ALONE

Don't feel guilty. Healthy pets can be okay on their own during a typical workday.

3
BUILD CONFIDENCE
BY EASING INTO THE TRANSITION

Ease your pets into the new change and set them up for success.

  • Leave for 15 to 30 minutes and see how your pet does.
  • Extend the time slowly.
  • If your pet acts up, try one of the tricks in steps 4–10.
4
HIDE TREATS FOR THEM TO FIND
WHEN YOU LEAVE

The first few minutes you're gone are the toughest for your pet. Distract your dog or cat by hiding treats around the house. Puzzle toys and interactive toys work great too.

5
USE COMFORT ZONE CALMING
PRODUCTS WITH YOUR KITTIES

Try Comfort Zone products like Calming Diffusers or Calming Collars. These mimic cats' calming pheromones and let them know everything's okay.

6
CRATE TRAIN YOUR DOG

Some dogs will be anxious or even destructive unless they're left in a crate. Crates can help them feel safe.

My sister-in-law's dog loves her crate. She puts her dog in the crate, and she's perfectly fine.
— Van Winkle
7
TRY A DOG WALKER

People jog or exercise to relieve anxiety. Pets need an outlet too. Anxious dogs might benefit from a dog walker who comes by during the first part of the day.

8
GIVE YOUR PETS THEIR FAVORITE TREAT OR TOY

If your dog has a favorite treat or your kitty loves a certain catnip toy, leave that behind when you step out the door. The Hinsdale Humane Society sometimes stuffs dog toys full of peanut butter and freezes them as treats.

If you're going out, they know they're going to get this great treat. It refocuses their brain. — Van Winkle
9
CHANGE UP YOUR ROUTINE

Dogs and cats know the cues that you're about to leave. If you change your routine up, they might get less stressed. Put your keys in your pocket early. Have your coffee before your shower. Change up the signs that show them it's time to get nervous.

10
BOND WHEN YOU GET HOME

No matter how long your workday has been, take time to bond with your cat or dog when you get home. Go for a walk with your dog, play with your cat, or snuggle together on the couch. Cherish every moment.

It can take several days for a confident pet to get used to your new schedule. Timid pets will likely take longer. If you slowly ease your dog or cat into the "new normal" of returning to work, you'll both be fine.

You're in this journey together.

Category: Cat Behavior | Comfort Zone