Now that lockdown is lifting around the country, we are re-emerging into a “new normal” way of life. For some people there will be a deep sense of relief at getting out of the house, whereas others may miss being at home as much. There will be a readjustment period not only for humans but our animal friends too.
Our pets have also had a shift in routine. Perhaps they haven’t been able to have a splash at the beach or play with other dogs at the park as they ordinarily would. Like us, they too may have become used to lie-ins, more frequent walks around the block and flexible mealtimes.
If they’re starting to look at you with accusing or sad eyes each time you walk out the door without them, you’ll need to adjust them to this new normal.
Keep them stimulated
Having you all to themselves or being entertained by a house full of people is very different to being home alone with no one to play with. Especially if you only have the one pet, you want to ensure they don’t get bored or lonely.
There are a wide variety of puzzle toys available for cats and dogs, and it’s simple to make your own – add some kibble into an empty toilet roll, fold up the ends and see if your pet can get to their treat.
Invest in some new toys (they can be as cheap as ping pong balls or as high-tech as interactive toys) and also make some time when you get back home to play with your pet. Not only will it make your pet’s day, playtime can also help you get out of work mode and relax.
Maintain an exercise routine
One positive that has come from physical isolation has been an increase in exercise for many humans and pets alike. While your days may now be busier, keep up the healthy habits you have formed.
Take your dog for a walk before you leave for work so they get quality time with you first-up. An early morning walk will mean they’ll expend energy so they’re less likely to feel pent-up or destructive throughout the day. If you absolutely don’t have time to walk your dog, arrange for a dogwalker. If you have a neighbour or friend nearby who also has a dog, you can take turns walking both the dogs or have a play date.
Play with your pets in the evening and utilise pet furniture such as climbing towers and window beds to keep them active.
Reduce separation anxiety
Despite your best efforts, your pet may still experience separation anxiety when you leave the house. Leave the TV or radio on so they’re not left in a silent house – voices in particular can be a source of comfort, so tune into a talkback channel rather than just music.
There are also products you can buy such as Feliway, a plug-in and spray which releases pheromones to soothe cats, and there is a dog version called Adaptil. Make your pet feel loved and secure by welcoming them when you arrive home and saying bye when you leave – don’t make a fuss of your departure though as you want them to understand you’ll return.