Ease into leaving your pet alone.
Start out by leaving your pet alone for a few hours each day. Make sure that you do not rile up your pet as you head out the door, since drawn-out goodbyes can cause your pets to feel more distressed while you’re away– and when you return home, resist the urge to make your entrance too much of a big deal. You want to come and go as if it’s normal to leave and return!
Stick to a similar schedule for mealtimes and bedtime.
If your back-to-work schedule allows, remain consistent with your pet’s mealtimes and bedtime. If you’ll need to adjust your pet’s schedule around your work hours, try to do so in small increments over the course of a few days or weeks to get them slowly accustomed to your new routine. Pets–especially cats!–have very sensitive body clocks that they rely on for a sense of stability.
Make a safe space for your pet.If you haven’t already done so, this would be an excellent time to crate-train your dog. Alternatively, simply making their crate a safe, comfortable place that they can freely enter and exit can help ease some of their anxieties while you are away. To get your pup acclimated to their safe space, try feeding them their meals or extra yummy treats while in their crate. Also make sure to provide lots of soft blankets and a few special toys–and if you have a spare T-shirt or pillowcase with your scent on it, throw that in there, too! You can also make a safe space for your feline friends. Cats love to make use of their vertical space, so this would be a great time to buy a cat tree or other fun hiding places and perches for them.
Start off your day with playtime or a long walk.
Not only will this help you to maintain your bond with your pet, it’ll also help them expend some of their morning energy in a positive way before you head out the door. Plus, it may even ease them into a midday-snooze while you’re gone!
Provide plenty of distractions and opportunities for enrichment while you’re away.
For some pets, boredom can quickly become stressful. Making sure they have ample access to toys will help to keep their minds engaged. For food-motivated pets, utilizing puzzle feeders and similar interactive toys is a great way to keep their minds occupied and their bellies full! There are also some creative, homemade options for crafty pet parents, like stuffing a paper towel roll with some low-calorie treats or kibble and folding up either end. (Pro tip: smear some peanut butter or yummy wet food on either end of the folded-up roll to entice your pet to dig in!)
Monitor your pet for signs of extreme stress or anxiety.
Some stress and anxiety can be expected when you change up your pet’s daily routine, but if this stress and anxiety becomes too intense, it may indicate an underlying health problem. Always ask your vet for guidance if any concerns arise.
Be patient, and keep up the quality time!
Just like your human family members will go through a bit of an adjustment period as we return to the workplace and our pre-pandemic routines, your beloved pets will too. Be patient with them, and be sure to give them just as much attention as you did before! Plus, isn’t taking a walk or cuddling up with your favorite furry friend simply the best way to end a long work day?