Tags: Coronavirus | pandemic | dogs | pets | cats | telecommuting | working from home

Prepare Your Pets for Post-Pandemic Life

a dog buries its nose in a food bowl
(Rex Features/AP)

By    |   Monday, 30 November 2020 05:04 PM

The light at the end of the pandemic tunnel might seem far away but pet experts say now is the time to prepare four-legged loved ones for the eventual return of their humans to offices and schools.

Dr. Zazie Todd, a veterinarian who has written over 25 books about pets, says the separation will be easier "if you make changes gradually, starting potentially a long time beforehand."

According to The Washington Post, pets should be O.K. with the transition from 24/7 human interaction to the normal workday mode. Todd suggests taking small steps by leaving them alone at home for small periods of time. She warns dogs especially love their routine, and should be walked and fed at regular times, so bear that in mind if you will be working 9-5.

Monique Udell, PhD., the director of the Human-Animal Interaction Lab at Oregon State University, says cats are social beings, too, and need their one-on-one interaction daily. She suggested scheduling alone time with your feline at the time of day you will be available after the pandemic.

Both Todd and Udell said the old-fashioned advice of ignoring your pets when you leave or return from home is outdated and does not cause separation anxiety.

"What your pet needs is for you to be accurately responsive to their needs," Udell told the Post.

The experts said if your pet shows signs of distress when you depart, take a few steps back and leave the house for a count of 20, and then work your way up to longer periods. Include lots of play before you go away and give them something to do when you are gone. Your vet can make some safe suggestions on what permissible items they can chew on safely — instead of your best sneakers.

And Todd says, if your dog or cat is persistently peeing or soiling in your absence, make sure there is not a medical issue that needs addressing. Once strangers are allowed to visit, make sure your pet has a safe place to retreat so he or she is not overwhelmed if they prefer not to interact with the visitor.

Clive Wynne, PhD, author of "Dog is Love: Why and How Your Dog Loves You," tells the Post that leaving your highly social dog for long periods of time is "just not fair, not reasonable, to ask them to cope" with long absences. He suggests hiring a dog walker if you are going to be working the normal 8-hour day. He added, he hopes employers will continue to offer remote work as an option as many Americans have voiced their opinion they would prefer to work from home.

An IBM poll conducted in May and early June indicated 81% of respondents wanted to continue working remotely at least some of the time and 61% said they would like this to be their primary way of working.

"I hope that more people, when the pandemic is over, will at least have the option of working at home some of the time, some of the days of the week," Wynne told the Post. "That could be a silver lining to come out of the miserable times that we're in."

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The light at the end of the pandemic tunnel might seem far away but pet experts say now is the time to prepare four-legged loved ones for the eventual return of their humans to offices and schools.
pandemic, dogs, pets, cats, telecommuting, working from home, veterinarians
536
2020-04-30
Monday, 30 November 2020 05:04 PM
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