By: Barb Grosch, CPDT-KA, Animal Friends University Dog Trainer
Our pets have provided wonderful companionship during our extended time at home. They provide laughter, cuddles and – for dog owners – a chance to exercise and enjoy the outdoors with their canine friends. As businesses and offices start to reopen, pet owners will begin spending more time away from home again. This could cause stress for our animals, especially for puppies and newly adopted dogs.
Here are some steps you can take to help your pets adjust to the return to normal …
Maintain a routine and consistent schedule.
Make changes to your pet’s schedule gradually. Sudden changes in things like feeding times and bathroom breaks can cause stress and housetraining issues. While cats are less prone to separation issues, they can still become stressed by changes to routine.
Encourage your pet to be alone while you are home.
Adult dogs sleep 12-14 hours per day and puppies need additional sleep, cats sleep an average of 15 hours per day (mostly at night) and rabbits also sleep during the day, with their most active hours at dawn and dusk. Allow your pet to sleep during the day while you work or do other daily tasks.
Consider if a mid-day break will be needed.
A trusted friend, relative or professional pet sitter may be needed to provide a mid-day break and exercise, especially for a puppy or newly adopted dog.
Make departures and arrivals low key.
Pets understand and sense our emotions so remain calm and positive when leaving the house and greeting your pet after the work day.
Set up a designated area if needed and practice using it while you are home.
Puppies and newly adopted dogs feel more secure and are safe from household hazards if they are confined to a room, exercise pen or crate.
Practice leaving, especially if your puppy or dog has shown any signs of distress.
Try leaving for short periods of time and gradually increase the length of time that you are away. Signs of distress include howling, drooling, pacing, scratching at doors or windows and urinating or defecating inside.
Enrich the home environment.
Options include classical music, videos made to entertain animals and interactive food toys.
Your pet will certainly be missing all of the extra bonding time you have shared during these last few months. If you added a new family member during this time you may be wondering how to continue developing a strong and lasting relationship with your new companion.
Thankfully, Animal Friends’ summer dog training classes are back and we are pleased to offer several different courses from basic obedience training to exciting enrichment activities – there’s something for everyone!
Classes are already starting and spots are limited – browse our course catalog and register today at ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org/DogTraining.