With many Australians hopefully heading back into the office in the near future, your pets are going to have to make a major adjustment too.
And what you don’t want is to come home and find your previously placid pooch has discovered how much fun there is to be had in ripping apart your cushions or, even worse, the whole sofa.
While some pets may have been “loved to stress” (according to our podcast this week) others have got used to having you at home more.
Pets that were acquired after the lockdown started won’t remember a world in which you weren’t around 24/7.
“Many of us have been enjoying life working from home alongside our beloved pets,” Nadia Crighton from Pet Insurance Australia says. “With many Aussies possibly heading back into work soon, we are urging all pet parents to start considering their pet’s needs now.”
Boredom can spark a huge range of behavioural issues, particularly in dogs. These can range from barking to chewing, and general destructive tendencies.
“It’s important to remember that when you are not there to offer your pet unlimited attention, they can easily get bored,” Nadia explains. “Your dog’s idea of entertainment may not be pleasing to either yourself or your neighbours.”
Ripping a cushion apart and causing a foam snowstorm is hugely rewarding for a bored pet. Nadia suggests considering a good boredom busting regime ahead of time to prevent this type of entertainment.
“It’s time to get prepared to help your pet adjust back into the working life schedule,” she says. “Consider what your pet’s day will look like when you go back to work.”
Her top tips include:
- Get up early and ensure you walk your pet before you go to work.
- Have a good selection of ‘home alone’ toys, rotate these daily, and always remove them when you return from work.
- Have some boredom-busting techniques – give your dog something to do when you are not at home.
- Keep a good routine, walking in the mornings and afternoons, or a good play session.
- Ease your pet back into the schedule. Pulling a really long day on the first day back is not a wise idea.
“Sticking to a routine is important,” Nadia suggests. “Get up at the time you would if you were heading to the office and walk your dog, and don’t let the weather deter you. Invest in some warm, waterproof gear, and stick with your plan.”
Boredom busting tricks allowing your pet to rip up boxes, or hiding treats around the home, and buying some of the commercially available puzzle toys.
“Pop treats inside a cardboard box and let your dog go nuts,” she says. “You can also freeze treats in water ice-cream container or some of their daily biscuits so they need to sniff them out.
“You can even get high-tech games and live video feeds that also dispense treats. Kongs (chew toys) are great too – fill with water-soaked dog biscuits and freeze overnight, then slap the hole shut with peanut butter (which doesn’t contain xylitol, as that is toxic to dogs). Keeps them entertained for hours.”
The trick, she says, is to pick the toys up when you get home, so instead of having a ‘toy graveyard’, your pet has toys that will last and that they are interested in playing with when you are not around.
“The key is to think like a dog,” Nadia says. “Enriching your pet’s environment and making an effort to change this up will have a huge impact on their alone time.”
On the other hand, if you do experience any behavioural issues with your pet when you return to work, seek professional help quickly.
“The quicker you act with behavioural problems the better chance you have at solving the issue,” she says.