Just like us, pets need routine, personal space and reassurance
For many of us, our pets are vital to our mental and physical well-being as we navigate the new world of coronavirus and home quarantine. We rely on them for companionship, entertainment and as exercise buddies.
But humans aren’t the only ones dealing with the effects of isolation. Pets are adjusting to the change in routine of having humans home all day – and will need to adjust again when we go back to our work spaces.
Do a check in to see how your pets may be dealing with the changes and anxiety of the pandemic. Like so many other things, looking online can turn up all kinds of good information. Here are six tips that come directly from animal experts:
- Give them a quiet and safe space
Dogs get sad when you leave them alone at home, but that doesn’t mean they want to play all the time.
Like humans, dogs and cats experience sleepiness, irritability, and personal boundary violations. They need rest and peace of mind – which they generally get when we’re not home. Now that the domestic scene has dramatically shifted, be sure your dog or cat has a safe, secure, comfortable space in your home to which they can retreat.
Respect this space. And leave something pleasant for your pet there – a bed, blanket or cushion, and his toys — as well as enough food and water.
- Take care of your pet’s diet
When you’re home all day, it’s tempting to give your pets more frequent treats and snacks. Resist the temptation for them, just as you’re likely doing for yourself. Or alternate store-bought, packaged snacks with healthy treats, like a piece of fruit or carrot.
- Stick to your pet’s routine
Limit changes to your pet’s routine. If you always took her out once a day before going to work and for a longer, evening walk, keep to that schedule. If you’re a first-time owner, start training your dog on your normal, non-COVID schedule. That way, when you go back to work, it’ll be an easier adjustment for your pet.
- Play hide and seek
Your pet experiences the world through its senses, so help stimulate them by playing games such as hide and seek. Hide food or treats around the house for them to find. These kinds of games exercise its mind, body and recall skills – and keep your pet busy and burning energy.
- Stimulate their brains – online.
If you think your pets need some entertainment while you’re working, the internet has options.
Videos For Your Cat features footage of fish, birds and squirrels for your favorite feline’s viewing pleasure – including the longest aquarium fish tank video on YouTube. Videos for Dogs leans toward squirrels and birds – with a few “cats meowing loudly” videos thrown in for auditory stimulation.
DogTV, meanwhile, is an entire TV service especially for dogs, offering shows designed to reduce stress, keep them entertained, and stimulate your canine’s vision and hearing. This service is compatible with Apple TV, Roku, iOS, Chrome and Android.
- Prepare them for the future
When you return to your normal work and travel routine, your dog or cat will experience another dramatic schedule disruption. Start practicing for that shift now. Go out on a regular basis, and leave your pet home alone so she doesn’t get used to having you there at all times.
Finally, don’t be surprised if all these changes in routine trigger some unexpected behavior from your pets. Like us, they experience anxiety – and even pick it up from humans – and are adapting to a new reality along with the rest of the world. Just as you would with any other beloved member of your family, have patience and give them the reassurance they need.