The past few years have seen an influx of people working from home. A remote work environment is challenging at times, but not for your pet! They love having you at their beck and call. For pets, owners working from home is a dream come true.
Unfortunately for them, more and more people are returning to their old routines. Pet parents going back to the office have reported signs of separation anxiety in their poor fur babies. Remote work was a welcome change, and pets are sad to see it go.
The following tips can help ease separation anxiety triggered by a change in your work routine.
- Create distance in the home: Pets have grown accustomed to happily snoozing next to their owners’ desks all day. Before you return to the office, put physical space between you and your pet to simulate what it will be like when you’re not home. Go into a separate room for a few minutes, then return to your pet and give them a treat for calm behavior. Dogs should practice staying in their crate with a chew toy or spending time outside without you.
- Get a head start on your old routine: Think about what your pet’s routine will look like once you’re back in the office. Start this routine a few days prior so your pet has time to adjust while you’re still working from home. Get out of bed, feed the pets and take Fido for a walk to re-establish the timing of your previous routine. You could even drive around for a few minutes to practice stepping out of the home.
- Leave for small increments: Separation anxiety will become a lot worse if you go from staying home all day to leaving for nine hours straight. Help your pets adjust to your absence by walking into a different room for small increments of time. Start with five minutes, then 10 minutes and so on. Increase the time span until you can leave to run errands while the pets are home by themselves. Reward good behavior with treats, even if you were gone for only a few minutes.
- Burn off anxious energy: Pets exhibit fewer signs of separation anxiety when they’re all tuckered out! Make room in your morning routine for a long walk or 15 minutes of rigorous play so the pet has less energy for destructive behaviors. Exercise won’t completely eliminate separation anxiety, but it will encourage your furry friend to stay calm and relax in their bed when you leave.
- Give them puzzle toys: In some cases, pets don’t get anxious—they’re just bored! A puzzle toy filled with treats gives fur babies something to fixate on as you sneak out of the house. Plus, the mental stimulation dissipates boredom and can even wear them out. In addition to puzzle toys, durable treats like bones and bully sticks are great for big dogs with tons of energy.
- Dress pets in the right gear: Pets with severe separation anxiety might benefit from a compression vest or pheromone collar. Compression vests place gentle pressure on the pet to help them feel more secure. Pheromone collars emit natural chemicals that signal a calming effect in cats and dogs. Pet parents can also purchase pheromone dispensers that plug into the wall. Ask your vet if any of these options are right for your pet.
- Incorporate a daily calming supplement: Despite your best efforts, your pets may still act out when it’s time for you to leave. Try giving them a couple drops of a pet-friendly calming supplement 30 minutes before heading off to work. Pets easily take supplements in tincture form, which are packed with herbs that relax the nervous system and lower stress hormone levels. Herbs such as ashwagandha, holy basil leaf and eleuthero root have long been regarded as effective remedies for separation anxiety.
- Try separation anxiety supplements: Returning to work is stressful for your pet because it signals a drastic change in their routine. Thankfully, there are stress-relieving supplements designed to help your fur baby adjust to scary changes. These supplements contain valerian root, lemon balm and passion flower, which act as mild sedatives that won’t cause addiction. The skullcap herb is famous for its mild sedative properties and ability to relax smooth muscles.
The shift back to a traditional work setting will undoubtedly cause stress for many pets. It’s important to stay patient and remind yourself that the adjustment period is only temporary. If these coping tips don’t work for your pet, a veterinarian can recommend further action to ensure your furry companion gets used to some extra alone time!