After spending most of the past year working from the comfort of their homes, workers are keener than ever to get back into the office, with a recent survey by Property Council of Australia finding that CBD office workplaces are seeing greater numbers.
While making the switch might be a social relief for many people, Dr Kersti Seksel, Registered Veterinary Specialist in Behavioural Medicine is asking pet owners to head back to work after they have considered how their pets may feel with this sudden change and then help prepare them for what’s to come.
“Animals, like us, like a routine and how they will react when things change depends on their personality. If owners do not properly prepare their pets to no longer have them around all day, then it may lead to the animal experiencing large amounts of stress,” says Dr Seksel.
For those looking to make the switch, Dr Seksel has put together her top tips for preparing pets for the return to work.
Establish a routine:
When it comes to animals, routines aren’t hard to implement. Cats especially are creatures of habit and look forward to following their routine. Try to commit to three to four activities that will happen on an ongoing basis in the same order. They may occur at different times. By doing this, your pet will come to understand that they will always get fed, have play time, sleep and rest even if it isn’t at the same time each day.
Give them their personal space:
Pets need to get used to not having their owners around each day. Giving your pets their own personal space at multiple times throughout the day will help them get used to their own company. While this may be easier for cat owners, dogs are often more social animals which may make establishing this routine a little more difficult for some.
Keep an eye on behaviour:
While helping pets learn their new routine, it is important to keep an eye on their stress levels. There are always tell-tale signs that your pet is exhibiting signs of stress. Even the smallest of changes in appetite, grooming or toileting habits can be a sign that they are becoming stressed.
De-stress your furry friend where possible:
Similar to humans, stress is not good for pets. When preparing your pets for the return to work it is important that you minimise their stress levels where possible. While synthetic pheromone analogues and neutraceuticals may help many pets unwind during this time, if stress becomes worse it is always best to see your vet.
Invest in some new toys:
One of the easiest ways to keep your pets entertained while you are out of the house is to invest in some new quality pet toys. For cats or kittens, Cat Protection Society NSW not only sells calming products but lots of fun and quirky toys, scratch posts and food puzzles to keep them busy. Your puppy or dog may also appreciate something new to investigate while you are out. Always remember to check that the toy is safe for your pet.
Dr Kersti Seksel is a boarded veterinary specialist in behavioural medicine in the Australian, American and European Colleges and Adjunct Associate Professor at Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga NSW. She is a Fear Free Certified Professional.
She is fascinated by animals and why they do what they do. She is passionate about helping people understand animals better so she can improve the lives of people and their pets.
Kersti pioneered Puppy Preschool® and Kitten Kindy® classes, teaches the distance education course in Behavioural Medicine for CVE (University of Sydney). She presents at conferences nationally and internationally, runs webinars, writes text book chapters, has written a book Training Your Cat, is a regular presenter on radio and TV and is a consultant on VIN.