COVID-19 has meant quite a change for our pets, with many going from spending the day alone to having a constant companion in their working from home paw-rants. This means more pats, more walks and more security overall.
So what will happen when you return to work?
Separation anxiety in pets can happen when they experience a change in their routine. Being apart from their owner, having spent so much time together, can be a trigger for this.
Initial symptoms of a fearful experience can include:
- Lip licking
- Ears pinning back
- Corners of mouth pulling back, which may appear like they´re smiling
- Hypervigilance, constantly scanning the environment
- Tucked tail
- Hair on their back going up
And this can progress to separation anxiety symptoms, such as:
- Hiding behind your legs or furniture
- Turning or looking away
- Panting and drooling
- Sudden urination or defecation
- Destructive behaviour
- Defense aggression – growling, biting, barking
- Restlessness and pacing – sometimes it looks like they are excited
Preventing separation anxiety
While you are still at home, now is the time to get into a back to work routine.
Start exercising your pets before or after work time, even though you are still around all day.
You can also start giving your pet alone time during the day, beginning with an hour or so and building up to what would be normal for your working routine. Have a think about the types of entertainment activities that will help your pet readjust, such as toys and comforters.
You can also start to trial time away from home without your pet, and ask your neighbours to report on any worrying behaviour, such as barking or distress symptoms.
Have a think about the leaving cues which might stress your pet when you are about to go to work, and work these into a normal day at home. Picking up the keys or putting on your shoes may then not cause such an anxious response in your pet when you do go to work.
If you are worried about how your pet will cope when you return to work, have a chat to your local vet. There are options including desensitising sprays and referral to an animal behaviourist which can aid in a smooth return to work.