As Mainers continue to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and life nears a return to pre-pandemic normalcy, pet owners around the state will be tasked with returning to work and will, once again, be altering the routine of their pets.
The pandemic and shift to working from home reduced our inclination to maintain a structured schedule, and it’s time to change that as workplaces reopen.
Pet owners should set a fixed time for different activities, including play, exercise, walking, and meals, advises Petmate.
“Ensure that the routine you set is the same one you will follow once you go back to work,” the pet products manufacturer said. “This will allow your pet to get used to the changed lifestyle.”
Stop feeding your pets at random times of the day, and instead feed them at the time you normally would feed them pre-pandemic as it fit around your work schedule.
“Take your daily walks at the time you would each morning or night,” advised Dogtopia. “You can even run through your typical morning routine: get ready, make breakfast, pack your work bag, leave the house and start your car.”
The Northeast Animal Hospital, in Florida, suggests leaving the house more frequently as your return to work nears, even if simply taking the pet to places you usually bring your furry friend such as a park, store or outdoor restaurant space.
“Don’t underestimate your pet’s ability to learn and recognize details in your daily routine,” the hospital said. “If you normally wear certain clothes for work, carry a particular bag, or give them a special treat before we leave, begin these ‘rituals’ again as we leave for our excursions.”
If planning to leave your furry friend behind while heading out for a day’s slate of activities, engage in a brief period of play and activity, the American Veterinary Medical Association recommends, to help your pet burn energy and prevent anxiety from setting in once you leave.
Janelle Metiva, a certified professional dog trainer and dog behavior specialist at Best Friends Animal Society, told the TODAY show separation anxiety can become an issue for pets.
“If the dog is used to that constant attention and suddenly it goes away, that huge, abrupt change could definitely cause them some big initial panic,” she said. “We have to do prep work now so that it’s not such an extreme transition.”