With most of us working, schooling and socialising within the four walls and fenced front yards of our own homes, flats or apartments our pets, more than ever have become the centre of our contracting universe. We’re hearing; flattening of the curve, stabilisation of infection, death rates slowing. Some countries sluggishly heading back to work and normality. All comments suggesting respite is closer than it is longer. How true this is remains unknown however at some point, we will emerge from this hibernation, hopefully with a few lessons learnt.
When our lives do return to movement; one thing we can do now for our pets, dogs particularly, is reduce the risk of separation anxiety. For the past month, and most likely for the next few months ahead our pets will have become accustomed to us and the rest of the family being home all the time. By osmosis our pets are receiving an avalanche of extra attention, more pats, more walks, more time with the family. This is awesome for them and something we should cherish. The danger is setting them up for unnecessary anxiety when we conquer this unwanted foe.
Reducing the risk of separation anxiety is a responsible and kindly thing to do right now. It may feel somewhat against the grain of loving pet parents, however implementing a strategy to ensure our pets transition from everybody home to everybody gone without added stress is as necessary for them as social distancing is for us right now.
Being aware of the possible impact of separation anxiety and trying to elevate its wave over our pets is something to consider for the future.
Giving your pet free time from the family for around 30% of the day is recommended. This will be extra hard when you have children at home, however experimenting with this idea is the kindest thing you can do to support your pet. This allows your pet time by themselves, time they may have been used to in the past. Not isolating the pet to a place unfamiliar but using sensibility so your pets’ routine allows them to settle without you or other family members. This may include taking yourself and family members for a walk or bike ride without your pet, keeping in mind that you’ll continue to give your pet his/her necessary exercise during the day. Allowing your pet some time outside, never as a source of punishment, more a place where they can entertain themselves with a favourite toy or alternative and allowing them routine away from the family will help greatly in the readjustment back to regular life.