How to prepare your pets for separation anxiety

One of the great advantages of working and partying from home has been forging closer bonds with our four-legged friends. Pets have provided company for many people during social isolation, with dogs’ tails stuck in permanent wag mode and cats now reportedly offering affection. With restrictions lifting and people returning to offices and nights on the town, pets can sense change in the air and the shift in your habits can lead to stress and anxiety.

To help your pet cope with change and prevent your shoe cupboard from being decimated in anger, here are some tips for helping Fido or Fifi adjust to the new normal.

1. Foster independence
In anticipation of separation, make sure that your pet is perfectly prepared to occupy themselves on their own, without sitting at your feet 24/7 while you’re on the computer (guilty). Use toys or treats to encourage independent play.

2. Return to a routine
While you’ve been working from home it’s been fun to take walks at all hours and indulge in shared treat times but it’s important to slowly return to your regular routine. Start walking your dog at the usual before work or evening hours and try to stick to regular meal times.

3. Eat Apart
When it comes to pleasure, meal time tops the charts for pets, although cats seem to take equal joy in playing staring games. To show that your pets can have fun without you being close by, establish their eating area in a separate room such as the laundry or even outside

4. Maintain exercise
Your dog may be used to longer walks than usual as you work from your phone and break up the long days but make sure that you slowly return to a level of exercise that you are able to maintain alongside your usual working hours.

5. Spend more time apart
It’ not them, it’s you. Rather than just ghosting your pet, leaving them fretting, slowly increase the amount of time that you spend apart before returning to eight hours of absentee pet parenting.

6. Go Green
While this is not available yet, keep a birds’ eye on New Zealand CBD pioneers Helius Therapeutics who have invested $2.5 million to establish Helius Animal Health. Expanding their focus beyond the health of us humans, the new Helius branch will develop therapeutic products to combat pet anxiety and stress, along with more serious conditions such as seizures, arthritis and skin conditions.

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