If you’ve been working from home the past few months, you may have faced your share of challenges — but the silver lining has probably been getting to spend so much time with your pets.
Of course, that means that your pets are in for an adjustment once your office reopens (and you’re no longer available for belly scratches 24/7). Like any big life change, this routine shift has the potential to cause stress and anxiety for your dog or cat.
Thankfully, there are some simple things you can do to ease the transition when it does come — so maybe they won’t even notice you’re gone. (Maybe.)
If your pet already deals with separation anxiety, the sight of you leaving for work again after all these months together might cause them some stress. Signs of separation anxiety include excessive barking, scratching at doors, chewing things, whining or howling and refusing to eat when you’re not home.
If your dog (or less commonly, your cat) is experiencing symptoms of separation anxiety, you can try a relaxation machine that’s designed to sense signs of stress in your pet, and soothes him with sound and vibrations.
How to help: RelaxoPet Pro Dog Relaxation Device or RelaxoPet Pro Cat Relaxation Device
After having your undivided attention for months, your pets are going to have to learn how to entertain themselves again. An eight-hour work day is a long time to be alone, so it’s no surprise that dogs and cats might get bored while you’re gone.
And boredom can lead to some destructive behaviors — including chewing or scratching blinds, furniture or shoes.
To make sure you have a home to come home to, try leaving your cat or dog with some new toys — a challenging puzzle game is a great option — so they have something to distract them from destroying your furniture. For dogs, try mind-stimulating options, like games that dispense treats. Cats enjoy track toys, especially ones where they have to chase catnip.
How to help: Trixie Activity Turn Around Dog Toy or Petstages Catnip Chase Track Cat Toy
While you’re home with your pet 24/7, chances are you’re giving her more treats because look how cute she is! Like any good pet parent, you’ll want to make sure your pets still feel like they’re getting attention even when you’re gone. If you choose the right treats, they can also help beat boredom and even provide health benefits. Dental chews are a tasty snack, help freshen breath, and come in various sizes and flavors for dogs and cats.
How to help: Greenies Dog Treats or Feline Greenies
If you’re especially worried about what your pet might get into while you’re gone, consider having a neighbor or pet sitter stop by to check on them during the day. If this isn’t an option, you can invest in an interactive camera, which will help you feel like you’re right there beside your pet, even if you’re stuck behind a desk.
The more high-tech models on the market will let you see, talk to and even play with your pets, thanks to two-way audio and HD video with zoom capabilities. Some even have a laser toy that you can control to play with your pet from afar, or keep it on autoplay to keep your pet occupied when you can’t.
How to help: Petcube Play Interactive Wi-Fi Camera
If you’re away from home during their mealtimes, you can get them used to an automatic feeder before you’re expected back at work so the transition will be easier on them. The best models are fully customizable, allowing you to change portion sizes and schedules as needed. Make sure the one you choose is compatible with your pet’s food — most are made for dry kibble, but wet-food versions exist, too. If your pet has a tendency to eat too fast, look for a model that can dispense numerous times a day, so you can give your pet several small meals over a longer period of time. The dispenser should also be pet-proof, to keep food fresh and prevent prying paws from breaking into it.
How to help: PetSafe Healthy Pet Simply Feed
Spending more time out of the house means you’ll probably also have less time for caretaking responsibilities like regular grooming. Luckily, your pets can take care of this for you while you’re at work. Self-grooming tools can also be very entertaining, and supply some of the affection they’ll be missing, which will keep your pet happy. For cats, consider a grooming arch, which they can rub against for a quick massage and to remove excess hair. Many also have a carpet base for scratching, to save your furniture from claw marks. Dogs love to chew, so the best thing to do is give them a healthy toy to gnaw on. A vet-recommended dental bone is a great option because it massages the gums, cleans teeth and freshens breath while your pup is happily occupied chewing something other than your shoes.
How to help: PETMAKER Self Grooming Cat Arch or Nylabone Pink Dental Puppy Bone Chew
With de-stressing devices, exciting new toys, plenty of treats and food, massage tools and a tech-savvy portal to mom or dad, your pet will basically be getting a spa day while you’re slogging away at work. But with these easy tips, the transition will be a breeze!
Lani Furbank is a freelance writer. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @lanifurbank or read her work at LanisCupOfTea.com.