How to start training your pets for your return to work

April 12, 2021

Your pets have probably loved having you home over the past year - but now with many returning to the office life, it may be time to start getting your pets used to you being gone.

Many animal experts agree that it will take time for your pets to re-adjust, CNN reports.

Your pets have either adjusted to you being home all the time or were adopted during the pandemic, meaning they don't know any different. That said, there's going to be another adjustment period when you start leaving the house again.

"Among current pet-owning households, 35% adopted pets in the 12-month period ending February 2021," Packaged Facts, a market research firm, reports.

CNN offers a few tips to help your pet get through the adjustment period:

Leave them home alone for a few hours at a time

The best way to begin to get your pets acclimated to "normal" life is to start leaving them home alone for a few hours at a time each day. This way, they're not shocked when you start leaving for longer periods of time.

You can leave your pets home for 2-3 hours daily to start.

Don't change your routines all at once

Keeping your pets in a routine that's as close to what they're already used to is best. It's important to make gradual changes so your pet doesn't suffer from the anxieties of being left alone right away.

Dr. Dana Varble, chief veterinary officer for the North American Veterinary Community, suggests keeping some of the habits you already keep up - like taking your pet on walks during lunch breaks.

Look into getting a pet sitter

If you're unable to keep up some of your daily habits due to your return to "normal" life, it may be good to consider getting a pet sitter or dog walker for the daytime when you're not able to be home.

Varble says, "In the last several years we've done a lot of research that's shown that a lot of animals have a much more significant and longer lasting memory than we thought they did."

Getting your pets into a routine with a new person could help the pets adjust to a different routine and cope with loneliness.

Leave distractions around

There are a few ways you can distract your pet when you're not around, including soft music playing, toys they can entertain themselves with, or videos they can interact with.

Ingrid Johnson, who is a certified cat behavior consultant with Fundamentally Feline, suggests that these tools can help keep your pet occupied, allowing them to focus on something other than the fact that their humans aren't around.

"It gives them comfort to be able to control access to their basic needs," Johnson said.

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