Over the past few months, we’ve created veritable cocoons of cosiness to work, play, relax and recharge… all within our own four walls. For many of us, our furry friends have been getting pretty snuggly right beside us. In fact, the isolation period has seen a significant increase in pet adoptions, which is great news all ’round. There are so many surprising benefits of owning a dog. Life in iso has been 24/7 attention… endless back scratches… multiple walks… extra treats… in a nutshell, a pretty sweet deal for the pets of Australia. But with restrictions lifting, the inevitable looms: How to tell your pets you’re going back to work. (Or perhaps more specifically, your dog… the cat probably couldn’t care less.)
Dogs and some cats are notoriously needy… this is part of the reason why we love them so. Now’s the time to start retraining Theo to deal with separation anxiety by gradually spending longer and longer periods away from him. Perhaps start by going into another room to work and closing the door. Pull back on the attention during ‘work hours’.
Although your pet may have been living on your lap for the past few months, there’s no reason why they can’t be comfy in their own beds. Make Cookie comfy with a snuggly bed and/or warm jacket or blanket… plus a few toys to keep her busy.
Rather than suddenly vanishing completely from Joe’s life, going from full-time pet parent to full-time gone, if possible, ease back into work with, say, two days in the office and the other three days working from home. Build slowly from there until any anxiety issues are under control.
If you’ve been walking Wurzel in your lunch break, chances are that will stop once you return to work. So start setting the alarm a little earlier (eek!) for pre-work walks to prepare for the new routine on the horizon. This is doubly important for high-energy dogs, as they can get bored and anxious. Burn off the excess crazies before you leave for the office!
Don’t make a big deal out of walking out the door in the morning (even though you may be crying on the inside!). Play it cool when you leave for work so Frida isn’t feeling fired up and frisky with the extra attention… just before you close the door on her for 8–10 hours. Instead, slip out quietly.
Some pets can be trusted to have free reign of the house while you’re gone… others can’t. To avoid unnecessary mischief-making and sofa-snacking, if needs be, confine Cameron in his own comfy corner of the house or garden with his bed, blanket and toys while you’re away. There’ll be plenty of time to play after work.
Another way to tell your pets you’re going back to work is to soften the blow of your absence with some extra snacks, especially of the long-lasting variety. A fun chew toy, bone or pig’s ear will keep Sniggy busy… and also positively reinforce you leaving in the morning. It’s not all bad news!
Keep your eyes peeled for any signs of distress, such as soiling inside or chewing themselves or the furniture. Dogs may also try to escape the property if they find an opportunity, either out of boredom or anxiety, so take care to pet-proof your fences. Seek professional help if you think your pet may be having a hard time, or perhaps there’s a neighbourhood teenager you could pay to pop in to walk and/or play with the pets. There are also professional services there to help and doggy daycare centres.
To sweeten the news of telling your pets you’re going back to work, you could spoil them with a new pet bed — we’ve got gorgeous new options in-store or online. Although it may be hard at first, dogs are very clever animals and, with patience, they’ll quickly adjust to the new routine. The bigger issue is… will we adjust going back to work?