Start transitioning pets back to pre-quarantine routine to reduce stress, anxiety

With most of us working from home or at least spending more time at home, our pets have had to get used to us being around more. Instead of getting up early to take the dog out for a walk or feed the cat and then heading out to work, we’re getting a little more sleep in exchange for our commute. That means our later schedule has pushed back our pets’ schedules too. And we can’t forget about all of the extra cuddles during the day and showing them off on Zoom meetings. Our pets have gotten used to extra attention all day and maybe even more play time.

All of the extra time you’re spending at home could also be negatively impacting your pets. Some older pets or cats that like their alone time might be stressed with large families constantly home. With the current situation around the country, many people are stressed about keeping their families safe or the stability of their jobs and the economy. If you’re feeling stressed during this time, your pet might be able to sense that. Pets that sense stress or chaos in a home can feel stressed themselves.

Getting back into a routine

When it’s time for all of us to start going back to work, school or even just being able to go out to events on the weekend, our pets will need to once again adjust to a new normal. When the Safer at Home order was set, we didn’t have time to transition into anything. Schools were closed, workplaces were moved to home offices and everyone was spending all of their time at home. Everyone, including our pets, handled the situation as best they could, but this time around we can take some time to transition our pets so they can ease back into another new routine.

Some families will go back to their original schedule and some will be looking at a brand-new routine based on new work or school schedules. How will those schedules impact your pet’s schedule? Some pets will be happy with a quieter house during the day, but others who have gotten used to being with you all day every day might have some separation anxiety once you start leaving the house again.

Start transition while you’re still at home

Right now, while we’re still working from home, doing schoolwork from home and spending all of our free time at home is a great time to start getting your pets back on a routine so they’re ready when you need to go back to work.

Taking your dog for a morning walk or letting them outside earlier, like you would if you had to leave for work, will get them back on their previous bathroom schedule. If you’ve been taking your dogs on extra-long walks during the day because you’re working from home, move those long walks to the end of the day so you can keep that routine the same once you get off work in the future. If your dog will be crate trained or limited to a certain part of the house when you’re gone, pick a couple times a day to put your dog in those spaces so they get used to being back in there when it’s time for you to head back to work.

Continue transition once you leave the house

When it’s time to finally leave the house and get back to a version of our old routines, there are several things you can do when you are home to make sure your pets are transitioning well. Increase play time in the morning and at night. If you get your dogs out for a long walk or play with your cats a bit before you go to work, they’ll be more likely to have a calm day waiting for you to come home after work.

Other ways to help pets transition to new routine:

Grooming – if your pet likes to be brushed, give them extra brushes during the week
Play music while you’re gone – soothing music or nature sounds are good
Leave a food puzzle or treat-filled Kong when you’re gone

This new Safer at Home lifestyle has been a transition for all of us. And when we are able to go back to work and school or at least get out of the house for a bit, our pets will once again have to get used to some alone time. We were all thrown into spending all of our time at home almost overnight, but there are several things you can do as a family to get your pets ready for another transition. If you have any specific questions about how your pets are handling the new normal or any extra stress, call our vets at Delavan Lakes Veterinary Clinic.