Recent stay-at-home orders drove both humans and their pets indoors. Now that people are spending more time than ever with their furry friends, they’re left wondering how their pets will manage when their humans finally head back to work.
Your furry friends need your help to cope with suddenly having you around, and when the time comes, to cope with your leaving daily again.
There are plenty of ways you can help your pets manage their stress – while taking care of yourself at the same time.
Managing your pet’s stress during your time together at home is the best way to prepare them for the future. Whether you have a new pet that has not experienced time apart from you yet, or you have a faithful friend that is just getting used to more time by your side, there are plenty of things you can do to help your pet manage its stress.
Get Plenty of Exercise
Pandemic or no pandemic, it is always important that both you and your pet get plenty of exercise. Cardiovascular exercise is good for heart health, while more passive activities like walking or playing tug of war with your pets help maintain daily the rituals that help you both bond.
Now that we all are staying inside, your dog might not be used to your constant presence – after all, your dog is also adjusting to your new habits. Therefore, you may want to increase the frequency of your walks. This habit will help you both burn-off energy and spend time together outside the home.
Give Your Pet Interactive Toys
Just like humans, pets can be distracted from their anxiety. Fortunately, soothing your pet’s anxiety doesn’t need to be complicated. Now that you’re around more often, you have the opportunity to help your pet be less anxious by distracting them with interactive toys.
Interactive toys, like chew toys with treats inside, can keep dogs self-occupied for a long time. And, because they are using their problem-solving skills, interactive toys can distract them from their anxieties. Additionally, some dogs respond well to noise-making toys, like empty water bottles or toys with squeakers inside. Dogs can play with interactive toys while you’re there with them, or these toys can help ease separation anxiety when you inevitably step out of the house without them.
Give Them Some Alone Time
Your dog may be experiencing more stress when you are around more often. Just as you go about your daily rituals, your dog usually self-entertains for a good part of every day. A shift in routine can be difficult for them, too.
Therefore, you might consider giving your dog some space. Let your dog relax in different rooms, or occasionally leave the house without them. It is important to teach (or remind) your pet that you leave often. This practice is essential for new pets that may not have seen you leave the house before.
You may want to start by leaving your dog for short periods, gradually increasing the amount of time that you leave them on their own. To ease your leaving, incorporate something positive, such as a treat or praise, when you go away.
Calming supplements and accessories
Many people have stocked up on self-care items in the past few months. There are plenty of purchasable items that help humans chill out – from essential oil diffusers to bubble baths. In the same way, there are plenty of products available on the market to help your dog relax, too. Like using CBD products or simple calming supplements, try to ease your dog’s separation anxiety with the assistance of a calming treat, collar, spray, or supplement.
Calming chews and other supplements can help control your dog’s anxiety, given in the form of a treat. If you are headed out but worried about your dog getting stressed when you leave, you can ease the transition with a calming treat.
What to do if You’re Worried About Your Pet’s Stress
If you are worried about your pet’s stress during the pandemic, you have many options. If frequent exercise, separation techniques, and calming supplements aren’t working, you may want to seek the help of a pet behavioral expert or a trainer. Trainers can help both you and your pet adjust to separation.
Additionally, you may want to look into getting a video system. This tool can help you monitor your pet’s stress response after you leave to recognize how you can help them better cope. Some video systems offer pet parents the opportunity to interact with their pets while they’re gone – or even give them treats.
Another way to decrease your pet’s stress is to manage your own. For example, you can automate having your pet’s protection delivered to you each month, rather than worry about missing a prescription or having to add another errand to your list. My Pet Defense delivers flea and tick prevention to your door automatically when you sign up for their monthly subscription, and even includes pet supplements like calming chews or multivitamins.
New technologies have led to more treatment options for your dog. Sometimes, recognizing their stress is the most critical step in helping your pet recalibrate. When you know your pet is struggling without you, it can be just as hard on you as it is for them. Together, you can find healthy coping solutions.
Don’t punish stress
Stressed animals can react negatively, sometimes destroying items around the house, barking uncontrollably, or even experiencing a biological response. Understand that these behaviors are your pet communicating with you, and take the opportunity to help your pet through their stress and anxiety.
When you punish your pet for their negative behavior, they will become more stressed. Therefore, work with your pet to establish healthy separation rituals.
The Bottom Line: It’s never too early to start training your dog for separation
Even if you’re still working from home, it’s not too early to start training your dog for separation. Give your dog plenty of alone time, leave them at home occasionally, and ensure that they get plenty of exercise while you spend time together.
Your time spent with your pet should be positive for both of you, so stay patient as they learn to cope with your presence while being sure to incorporate plenty of alone time. As you help your pet cope with the stress of the pandemic, you must adjust along with them. Remember that you are a family and that you’re there to help each other!