Preparing your pet for the easing of COVID-19 restrictions
During the COVID-19 outbreak, many of our companion pets benefit from their owners staying at home. The ‘lockdown’ restrictions have eased, so it’s now time to leave your home. This change can be confusing and stressful.
There are many things we can do to help our animals adjust to this new normal.
Keep a routine
We all need to change dramatically because the current situation has changed rapidly. Animals can also be stressed by unpredictability or dramatic changes in routine. By maintaining a schedule, you can help reduce stress in your companion animal by providing a normal way. Follow a regular schedule for feeding, exercise, and toileting. Also, make sure to spend time with your companion. Try to make this routine as similar as possible to your regular non-pandemic schedule to minimize the amount of change for your pet.
TEACH THEM HOW TO FEEL SAFE ALONE
It is important to teach your dog to be content and secure when left alone. Please set up your pet in a room that is comfortable and safe, and provide them with a tasty snack and fun activities. Start with short periods and increase your absence gradually.
You can take your dog for a walk without him and leave him at home (in an area with plenty of things to do). It’s a good idea if you have multiple dogs to walk them individually so that they feel comfortable.
ENRICHMENT ONLY FOR A SINGLE TIME
We recommend that you give your pet a treat when leaving them alone. This will keep them entertained and help them build a positive relationship with being left on their own. You can give them safe toys to chew, cuddle, or play with, use a puzzle feeding system, hide treats, and let them find them.
Toys that stimulate your pet’s mind and body are great enrichment toys.
EXERCISE PRIOR TO ALONE TIME
Exercise helps animals to relax, just like it does for us. To burn off excess energy, plan some play or exercise activities before leaving your pet alone. Wand toys are a favorite of many cats, and they may even like trick training. Exercise your dog with games like tug-of-war, fetch, or hide-and-seek.
After exercising your pet, give them 15-20 minutes for them to settle before you leave him alone.
DISTURBING DEPARTURES and ARRIVALS
When faced with a cuddly, excited cat or dog, it can be difficult to resist making a dramatic entry. However, keeping things low-key helps teach your pet that coming and leaving is nothing to get anxious (or excited) about.
ASSIST PETS TO FEEL SAFE AT HOME
Cat furniture such as cat trees, shelves, and hiding places will make your cats feel more secure. It is especially important for multi-cat households, as this provides additional space to prevent conflict.
Dogs may be able to relax and reduce their barking by listening to soothing music.
Most pet shops sell diffusers and sprays that contain synthetic pheromones. The diffusers should be placed in the area where your pet spends the most time.
Some animals may find the transition to a new environment more difficult than others.
It can be hard to tell when cats are stressed. Watch for any changes in activity, increased hiding, inappropriate toileting, or changes in appetite.
Dogs that are anxious or in distress may exhibit signs such as excessive barking, whining, or destruction when left alone.
Never punish your pets. Punishing your pet for these behaviors will only increase their anxiety and make the behavior worse.
If you see signs of stress, seek the help of a qualified animal trainer or behaviorist.