By this point in time, the vast majority of employees have started to return to their office a few days a week or even full time. If you thought this was a big change for yourself, just imagine how your pet is feeling! To help make this transition as smooth as possible for you both, we’ve put together a list of things you can do to support your pet through this change to their daily routine.
While working from home, did your pet move from a two meal a day feeding schedule to multiple smaller meals throughout the day? If so, this is something you’ll want to take into consideration when you head back to the office. Cats and small dogs, in particular, actually prefer having 3-4 small meals a day rather than two larger ones in the morning and night. To manage this schedule, you’ll want to use a timed or automatic feeder. The WOPET Automatic feeder lets you control mealtime and portions directly from your smartphone. Plus, you can record a voice message that is played each time their meal is dispensed! If you’d prefer a more simple device, the PetSafe automatic feeder lets you set a feeding schedule for the five compartments, which you can pre-fill with your pet’s meal. Relying on these automatic feeders to keep your pet's feeding schedule consistent will reduce the anxiety that comes with not knowing when their next meal will arrive and can help them adjust to the change in your work schedule.
After spending so much time at home together, your pet is bound to miss you while you’re gone during the day. A great way to stay in touch with them while you’re back at work is with a pet camera. These cameras let you keep an eye on your pet during the day, giving you insight into how they’re dealing with being home alone during the day. Many of these cameras offer two-way communication, so you can interact with your pet by tossing treats or playing with a laser pointer – just like you would do if you were there in person! If you’re interested in a pet camera, take a look at our list of options perfect for every budget.
If you know that you’ll be heading back to the office full-time, or even part-time, start preparing your pet well in advance – especially if this will be the first time they’re staying home alone. The best way to start is by leaving your pet ‘alone’ while you’re still in the house. Depending on the set-up of your house, this could mean leaving them in a room alone or simply in their kennel or carrier for a short amount of time as you continue with your day. Once they seem comfortable being separated from you in the house, try leaving for short periods, starting with just a few minutes and working your way up over time. This is where a pet camera comes in handy, as you’re able to monitor your pet’s behavior while you’re gone. If you notice that your pet is in distress while you’re out, reduce the amount of time that you’re gone until they seem comfortable, then work your way back up to longer stretches.
Another big adjustment for your pet is suddenly being in a completely silent house. Even if you weren’t necessarily loud while working at home, there were the sounds of movement and likely a call or two throughout the day. Now that you’re back at the office, your pet might feel a bit unsettled by the complete lack of noise – this is where music comes in. Researchers have found that pets enjoy listening to music when it’s tailored to their species. There are a number of paid and free options for ‘pet music’ available online, which can be nice to play while you’re gone during the day. While it won’t be quiet the same sounds as if you’re home, the lack of silence can be comforting to a pet that’s home alone.
If your pet feels unsettled during your transition back to the office, try using a calming product to help comfort them. Pheromone products work especially well, as they make use of scent chemicals that animals already use to communicate with each other and their environments. ADAPTIL (for dogs) and FELIWAY (for cats) are two popular brands of these synthetic pheromones that are clinically proven to help reduce stress and anxiety in pets. Plus, they come in a plug, spray, and collar form so you can choose the style that’s most suited to your pet.
If your pet’s anxiety when you leave is more than you can handle on your own, don’t be afraid to speak to a professional. Your vet is a great person to turn to, as they can refer you to a behavioral or training specialist who can help you manage your pet’s separation anxiety. They can even prescribe medication or make referrals for over-the-counter options for more serious cases.
We hope that you’re able to try some of these tips for helping ease your pet into your transition back to the office!