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Phoebe with flowers

Prepping pets for human-free homes

If you own a pet, and you’ve been working from home for the past few months, chances are you’re better acquainted with them now than as you knew them pre COVID-19.

Watching their daily antics, entertained by their naughtiness, in awe of their inquisitive nature. And their ability to sleep endless hours a day, who would have thought?

Phoebe sleeps on the chair next me. Every day. She saunters on screen in my daily video conference calls, her tail reminiscent of a swaying snake dance. She sneaks sips from my water glass. Even dipped her paw in my coffee when she thought I wasn’t watching.

She’s the queen of shortcuts. Rather than walking around the laptop, she’ll unashamedly take the keyboard option, oblivious to the beeps or lost content she causes.

What will her day be like should I return to the office? And will she ever drink from her own water bowl again, or just go thirsty til her human returns home?

No doubt pets were wondering why on earth their humans were home more than they used to be when restrictions were first introduced. But by now they’re used to us being home.

So how will they react post COVID-19 when/if we return to the office, university or workplace?

Suggested tips to help prepare us for the impending pet separation include:

Create a schedule

Being organised is good for everyone, it’s less stressful. It’s the same for your pets. When they know the routine, they too will be less stressed. Factor in time each day for your pet, that includes feeding, toilet breaks, walks and/or play time, grooming and down time.

Play down when entering and leaving the home

To help prevent any pet anxiety, don’t make a fuss when you leave home. Yes, I’m referring to those extra guilt cuddles and belly scratches. Just close the door behind you, fuss-free. This way you’re telling your pet its no big deal to be leaving the home. You’ll be back.

Let them burn energy

Pets settle quicker and easier when they’ve been exercised. When scheduling exercise time, allow for morning and evening time if possible. When they are physically and mentally challenged, pets will generally be content with lazing around until you return home. Invest in some suitable toys.

Keep their mind entertained

After their morning play, and after their rest time, you can bet they will be looking for something to do to entertain themselves. This is typically when the mischief starts. Invest in some suitable toys for your pet for mental stimulation and entertainment. Treat dispensing or chew toys that encourage pets to explore and be rewarded for self-initiated play can work wonders.

Prepare them for alone time

You can help reduce separation anxiety for you and your pet by preparing them for alone time. Start by leaving your pet for short periods of time, then gradually increase the length of time over a few weeks. Keep to your schedule and provide them with their creature comforts to play with and snuggle when you’re not home to keep them mentally and physically stimulated.

For cats you may like to invest in cat furniture or climbing trees so they can hide, hunt, snooze and scratch to be entertained and feel safe.

For dogs it has been reported that soothing music or audio books may help to reduce boredom barking and help them to rest by masking any potentially scary noises.

For tech-inspired humans, there’s many pet gadgets available today to help you communicate easily with your pets remotely. Cameras, speakers, treat dispensers, the options are endless, although your budget may not be 😊.

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