Happy May, Weirdos! As we start to see businesses open up and people return to the workplace, we may be at home less often, leaving our pets a bit confused as to what happened to all those extra snuggles and walks and all that bonus playtime.
Some animals can suffer from separation anxiety when their routine is broken. We may suffer from a bit of it ourselves after becoming accustomed to all this extra time we got to spend with our furry friends.
There are some things you can do to ease the transition back to being away from home, such as playtime and a rewarding treat before leaving the house. In dogs, most of the stress (and possible anxious behavior) happens in the first fifteen minutes after the human companion leaves. There are certainly feelings and intentions and general concepts that we express to our pets that they understand but “I’ll be back in eight hours” probably isn’t one of them.
Cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy addresses both establishing a schedule for your cat to match your new circadian rhythms (wake-sleep cycle) from being home all the time (this is for you folks who will continue to remain home for work) and also how to return to something similar to the schedule you had before the outbreak in this video link: https://youtu.be/HrqSi-xr-pw
According to Petcoach and many other animal psychologists and researchers, making a big fuss over leaving and returning can be detrimental to the situation and to the animal’s emotional health. Some analogies I thought of were vivid memories of long, painful goodbyes to a family member or friend or when seeing someone for the first time in a long time perhaps at a gathering, it may be easier to have them mingle for a bit before coming to you so you have time to contain your emotions and greet them without feeling too overwhelmed. The immediate “on/off” (or “off/on” when arriving home) shower of affection in extreme contrast to solitude may be a lot for your cat (or dog) to process. More details, information and helpful tips can be found here: https://www.petcoach.co/cat/condition/separation-anxiety-1/
Lastly, there’s the chance that we will experience a bit of this ourselves, excessively worrying about our partners, children, and pets when we return to our old routines. We may find that we experience some anxiety leaving the comfort and safety of our homes, even as we had longed for a return to a less claustrophobic and sheltered existence. Some helpful tips can be found here:
Thank you to Robert Darkmatter for this blog!