How to prepare to avoid pet anxiety when returning to the office

If there’s one positive to take away from a challenging 2020, it’s that many Australians were able to spend more time with their family and pets while working from home. But with the vaccine rolling out and life returning to a ‘new normal’, it’s time for us to return to the office.

So, how do you transition back to regular work life without making your pet anxious? Here are some helpful tips to help your furry friend prepare.

4 ways to help your pet cope

The great work-from-home experiment was a roaring success for many industries, but with things opening up again it means many Australians will be returning to the office. And while it might not be back to the 40-hour work week in the office, it still means you won’t be at home as much as during the pandemic.

That means you need to prepare your pet for your absence. Without helping them adjust, they could get separation anxiety, start barking incessantly and digging holes, or even escape your home to look for you. Here are four ways to help your pet cope.

1. Make it a soft transition

If you’ve spent almost every waking moment of the past 12 months with your pet, suddenly returning to the office full-time will be an incredible shock to their system. Instead of an immediate return to work, see if you can transition back to the office slowly. This may be in the form of only heading into the office two days a week at first, or reduced hours (during the middle of the day while they nap, for example).

2. Call on your friends and family

If you can’t work out a hybrid work plan at your office, you may need external support to help your dog or cat adjust. If this is the case, see if your family or housemates can look after your pet while you are away at work. Alternatively, you see if you can stagger your working hours initially so your pet can slowly get used to you being away for longer periods of time.

3. Speak to your boss

Even though being in the office is great for camaraderie and collaboration, it’s not essential for many employees to do their jobs. If your pet is going to struggle with you being in the office all the time, speak to your boss to see if you can work out a back-to-work transition plan that sees you come into just once or twice a week for the first month.

Also be aware that adult dogs and cats may deal with your absence better than the little ones. Kittens and puppies become completely dependent on you, and if the only life they’ve ever known is you being around 24/7, then being away for eight hours a day will be very hard for them. Make sure you work out a plan with your boss to help your pet adjust with as little anxiety as possible.

4. Don’t compound the changes

Aside from you heading back to the office, try to avoid making any other drastic changes to your pet’s lifestyle. That means keeping to the same routine for their exercise – whether that’s daily walks before you head off to the office, or throwing the ball for them in the backyard as soon as you get home. Also keep their diet as similar as possible. Giving them healthy meals that are packed with high-quality, natural ingredients can keep your pet’s body and mind in the best possible shape.

How to recognise separation anxiety

If you’ve already started back at the office and you’re worried about your pet experiencing separation anxiety, there are a few common ways to spot it:

  • They are excessively distressed when you are leaving. They will recognise you picking up the keys or even getting dressed for work as a sign that you are about to leave them. This may result in whining, crying, jumping up at you or barking when you shut the door.
  • They are overwhelmingly delighted as soon as you return home. This isn’t just the normal happy bum wiggles – this is highly stimulated behaviour that isn’t normal and takes a long time to calm down.
  • They vocalise for long periods whenever you are away. Constant barking is a sure sign of separation anxiety and it can be a nightmare for your neighbours as well as your pet.

Pets who have separation anxiety may need extra training or even medication to help them manage. If in doubt, speak to your vet about what you can do for your furry friend.

Keep your pet’s body just as healthy as their mind with high-quality food. Pure Life Pets has a wide range of grain-free and allergy-friendly food for both dogs and cats.