As we get used to working from home, we can appreciate that one day soon (hopefully), a vaccine will allow us to get back to normality. This is fine for us, but what about our pets who have got used to us being around during the day. How can we help them get used to the “new normal” and what are the best ways to ensure we can successfully work from home with pets?
We’ve all had days when working from home when our favorite pet has barked through that important Zoom meeting or like in the picture above the cat has decided to join in on the task in hand but how can we keep them healthy as well as ourselves?
Stick to A Routine
So as with humans, to keep our furry friends happy it is best to stick to a routine so that they know when they can and when they can’t join in. Setting aside ten minutes to play with your pet every couple of hours has benefits for you both in that it saves them from getting bored (and then vocally reminded you of that fact) and it also has positive benefits for you too. Getting away from the screen and focusing on something else will help with your own concentration and well being.
Taking your dog out for a walk at lunchtime will also ensure that you’re getting your daily dose of exercise and fresh air. Try to have times when you are not there – this is helped if you have a separate room for working in – as this will ensure that they are still OK with you not being there. Being constantly with them will create problems when you eventually go back to work and you are not there giving them attention they have become accustomed to.
so give them time by themselves and schedule time to spend with them, you’ll both appreciate the time together.
Occupation for A Dog or Cat
So when you are not there, or at least shut away from them, they will require something to occupy their time, apart from sleeping. It is when they become bored that they will look for things to do, so better to keep them occupied.
Both dogs and cats love to receive treats so some of those puzzle feeders would work as a great distraction for them, or a preferred toy that is only given to them at specific times would keep them occupied. Giving them the same toy day after day will, quickly, become boring though so mix it up a bit and change the toy from time to time to ensure that they remain intrigued by them.
It doesn’t have to be expensive play things, I know how much fun my cat has with an empty box, whether its lying inside it or sniffing around or just sitting on top of it. It’s all play fun, and they don’t care how much you spent on it either!
Don’t Try this at Home
So, I know how fraught working at home can get, and its not easy some days juggling work, children and pets on top of everything else but when you’re having a bad day please don’t take it out on your pet. Never reprimand, physically discipline or isolate your pet to punish them for getting in the way. This will not help the situation, and will probably just make things worse in the long term.
Getting Them Used (and You) for Returning to Work
So, at some point, normality will return to life and we will get back to returning to the office (it may not be five days a week ever again, but that’s a different article altogether) so its best to begin to get your pet prepared for the day you’ll go out through the front door and aren’t back until nighttime.
Dogs and cats, you won’t be surprised to know, react differently to the lack of human presence and therefore getting them used to you not being there again required different approaches. For a dog, getting them used to not being with you all the time. Try restraining them and just taking one step back. If they can chill out then it will be an easier process than if they begin to get stressed out. One way to get them used to you not physically being there is to have a baby gate where you are currently working in the house. That way they can still see you but are unable to get close. Don’t let them get too stressed out however. Slowly they will get more relaxed at the prospect of you not being there.
Again sticking to a schedule is a good routine to adopt so before you return to work try getting into a similar time routine. Feeding a cat before you would be normally leaving in the morning and then again in the evening will quickly get them into the routine they will become used to. Slowly getting them used to the new routine will always be better than a sudden change – I am sure it will be the same for us humans when we return also!
Dogs are not quite as rigid, and so will be happier if the routine is not exact but gauge how they are. If they have been used to getting fed at one time, rather than delay it, bring it forward first, then return it to the usual time, varying the feed time over a period of a couple of weeks will get your dog used to varying times and will make it easier in the long run.
Pets will pick up on stress levels in humans quite easily so trying to remain calm and not making a big fuss when you leave the house will help them too. It may be as stressful for us to be returning to work too so you don’t want them to pick up on that either. Try to leave the house quietly and quickly to reduce the stress in all parties involved.
If they have got used to the “new” normal and associate you putting on your jacket as walkies time then you will need to try to disassociate that for them. Try getting ready to go out but then sit down with them and just watch TV with them or read a book. This will get them used to you having your jacket on and taking them out.
Taking the time to get them used to this over the course of a few weeks before returning to work should help with the stress levels all round and hopefully make for a smooth transition back to work.
I hope you found this article useful. If you have any questions or issues with your pet as you are working from home, be sure to let me know in the comments below. I’d love to see some of your pet pictures too. To get you started here is my pet cat lazing about………..