Life After Quarantine: How to Start Training Pets for your Return to Work

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With more quarantine restrictions lifting and more people getting vaccinated, many of us are returning to offices for work. This change affects not just us but our pets too. If you are like most of the world, sheltering in place took on a new meaning because of the COVID pandemic. Though for our pets, the extra time with you is welcomed. But as we begin to trickle our way back to working in our offices, the shock of absence may impact them more than we realize. There are a few things that we can do to make the shift easier. Natalie Ragland, DVM and contributor at Honest Paws, shares her insights and tips to help pet owners prepare their pets for life after the pandemic.

1. Leave more often during the day as "D" day approaches

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As "Departure" day approaches, leave your space more frequently. If you need to run an errand or go for a walk, block out time away from the house to acclimate your pet to your more future permanent absence. If you are to report in person without much notice, consider using a few vacation half-days to build in a routine daily before implementing your original schedule.

2. Develop your old routine


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If you are provided ample notice when returning to work, remember that most animals, including our pets, are creatures of habit. Pets know when you are due home and what time you usually leave each day. Re-establishing your old routine a few days beforehand may be necessary. You can start by:

* Re-establishing your previous walk times

* Re-instituting normal feeding schedules

* Leaving for the day and placing a camera in the house to monitor for any signs of separation anxiety

3. Look for signs of stress and anxiety

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If your pet is more prone to being stressed out or anxious when you leave, watch out for using the bathroom in the house, destroying household items such as household blinds and furniture. Seeing these signs may warrant a call to a veterinarian or a telemedicine appointment with a behavioral expert. If you are pressed for time as we are all these days, consider increasing your pet's exercise to release stress hormones and increase endorphins, leading to longer napping times.

4. In-home or daycare service

 

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If you can arrange for someone to come to your home to either sit with your pet or walk your animal as needed, this may be the best option to start. Some local daycare centers for animals may offer in-home services and drop off and pick up. An even better option would be to have a relative or loved one who may want to visit; coordinate the time where you will be out of the house so that there is some company at the start of your exit.

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Veterinarian Natalie Ragland of Honest Paws goes on to say that, like us, our pets also had to shutter in for much of 2020. Because of this fact, many of them could not go to daycare, visit parks and socialize with other animals since their owners were unable to socialize with people. Animals that were once used to going to dog parks now had to stay home and only have access to certain areas for exercise. So it's good to remember that many dogs only saw other dogs from a socially appropriate human distance and could not interact, which decreased socialization skills.

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