The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has the following advice for preparing your pet for your return to work.
The AVMA recommends the following seven steps to get pets ready for your return to work:
Slowly introduce your workday routines— The AVMA recommends that you start by scheduling consistent waking up, feeding and walking times that would fit your expected workday routine, then introduce a consistent departure schedule that builds on that routine.
Take anxiety out of your departure—Practice short departures on a daily basis and gradually extend the time you are gone. One way to help your pet is to give a small treat just as you walk out the door. This will condition the pet to find it rewarding when you leave. If signs of anxiety—such as destructive activity—occur, do not punish the pet. Instead, shorten the time away and slowly build up to longer periods. Stay calm when leaving or returning home.
Exercise—Before leaving, it is highly recommended to engage in play and other activity. Burning excess energy can help keep pets calm and relaxed while you are away.
If you plan to take your pet to a daycare center or have them visited by a dog walker please read the following advise: While the risk of pets becoming infected is believed to be low, as a precaution, if you intend to have a dog walker or send your pet to daycare while at work, treat your pet as you would a human family member to protect them from possible infection with COVID-19. This means limiting contact between your pets and people outside your household as much as possible. Follow protocols put into place by the daycare and do not use these options if you or your pets are sick. Keep cats indoors if possible. Do not put face coverings on pets and do not wipe or bathe your pet with chemical disinfectants, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide or any other products not approved for animal use.
Keep them engaged during your absense—Long-lasting treats, food puzzles, and automatic feeders can help keep pets occupied during the day while you’re out.
Create a safe space for your pet—If you have typically used a crate when you were gone but haven’t been crating your dog while at home, now is a good time to either explore not using a crate while you are away (gradually increasing the length of time you are away) or reintroduce crating while still working from home by making it rewarding for the dog to go into the crate for short periods of time.
Look for signs of stress—Excessive barking or whining, agitation, destructive behavior and inappropriate urination/defecation can all be signs of stress. If you are concerned, consider filming your pets when you leave so you can better observe them and share the video with your veterinarian.
Talk to your veterinarian— if you find yourself with concerns about your pet’s behavior, stress or wellbeing we recommend scheduling a consultation with one of our Vets. From there we can determind if your pet requires the intervention of a veterinary behaviorist and/or medical intervention.