Over the past few months, A woman working from home has her laptop in her lap, and her small french bull dog pup leans his head on the keyboardmany pet parents have been home a lot more due to stay-at home orders and work from home (WFH) options. In most cases it is a change in our normal routines that not many of us would argue. It has made humans and pets alike happy as those once farfetched fantasies become reality. On the other hand, the days are fast approaching where “outside is opening back up,” we are returning to work and our pets are having to transition yet again. However, this time, it is not so favorable.

During transitions is when abnormalities manifest themselves. An example of this would be when the furnace has been resting all summer and as soon as you start it back up in the winter season, there goes the motor and belts. As you prepare to return to work, let us be intentional in getting our furry pets ready, too. The way we handle this time can make a drastic difference in their ability to cope.

One way to ready your pet is to keep as much of a routine as you possibly can. This does not mean going back to the way things were exactly. Take time to assess what your new routine has become. You will consider times you awaken, work out, eat, work, meetings, etc. Once you have done that, outline what your pet’s routine will be now. It may reflect differences in times they eat, get their walks or days they attend doggie daycare. Many of our clients have found that even half days of daycare relieve some pressure from the day as they are able to hold peaceful video conferences while their pet gets to exercise and socialize. Being able to enjoy an activity they are used to helps tremendously.

Now that you have a basic schedule built, let’s take it a step further. While you are going about your day, create time to not be with your pets. Yes, even though you can be. What I have noticed is that the crate system has become a thing of the past during the pandemic and as pet parents attempt to utilize it again, their pets have a hard time accepting the boundaries set for them. To reacclimatize them, schedule times to put them in their crates or separate areas of the house while you are cooking dinner or go out to run an errand. Remember today’s lifestyle is not permanent and it is your responsibility to ensure your pet is ready.

When reintroducing them to their crate, depending on how long it has been and how muchA pretty black and white dog sits happily in a crate with the door open they rebel, you may need to start out separating them for shorter periods of time and increasing them slowly. For example, if they do not put up much fuss, separate from them half the work day a few days a week or incrementally between meetings or meals. On the other hand, if they are not having a great time and boundaries become stressful, you may need to start very slowly. That probably read easier than done but you will have to start somewhere (and soon). In that case, try only crating them for shorter tasks such as showers, eating meals, or a quick run.

Ultimately, you do not want to create higher resistance and unfavorable behaviors by making all of this change happen in an instance. A few of my colleagues are dog trainers and they have received an influx of communications from pet owners who are having a tough time. Their dogs are destroying furniture, whining relentlessly or developing new anxiety disorders. As with most things, with some effort and patience you can get the outcome you desire. Your Paws are worth it!

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