Travis Road Ahead
Travis Road Ahead

Help your pets get ready for when you return to work

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As we prepare to return to the office once the shelter in place is lifted, we must also prepare our companion animals.

Your pet has grown accustomed to having you home – it’s part of their new routine. Adjusting to your sudden absence could cause stress and undesirable behaviors. Adding daily training into your pet’s routine now will help them tremendously in the months to come.

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Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) recommends training your pet to get accustomed to spending time by themselves with the goals of proving to your pet that they are safe and showing them that alone time can be fun.

With proper management and training, separation anxiety can be avoided. Here are several suggestions to start implementing now:

Veronice Gomez State Farm
Veronice Gomez State Farm

Low-key departures and arrivals. During the 10-15 minutes before you leave the house or when you arrive home, strive for a calm, neutral atmosphere. Avoid hugging, kissing, petting or ­­high-energy play. It’s best to simply ignore your pet for that time period.

Long-lasting treats and food games. Experiment with long-lasting treats and creative feeding methods for your pet’s meals. You’ll want to test these out before you actually leave your pet home alone with them. If your dog or cat doesn’t eat the food when you’re around, they likely won’t eat it when left alone. When you find a treat your pet especially loves, only give it to them before you depart the home. This will keep the treat extra special. Ideas include: food dispensing toys, food puzzles, interactive feeding mats (like snuffle mats), and hiding kibble/treats in cardboard or paper products that your pet can tear apart (like cereal boxes, paper towel rolls, egg cartons or paper bags).

East Bay Regional Parks
East Bay Regional Parks

Practice alone time. Identify a comfortable, safe area for your pet to be alone. This might be in a room, an area separated by a baby gate or in a dog crate (if crate trained). At least once a day, set your pet up with a long-lasting treat, some of their favorite toys, a comfy bed and water. Start by leaving them alone for short periods – even just a few minutes. You can alternate between leaving them completely alone and sitting nearby while not engaging. Vary the length of absences so it’s not predictable. Pets can get very good at keeping time.

Bicker is the executive director of ARF. For more pet care tips and resources, visit arflife.org.

Leigh Klock Realtor
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