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Family Files

Keep your fur friends happy when you return to work

photo of dog

Working from home has come with many adjustments, not only for human, but also for our "fur friend" pets at home. Candace Croney, an expert in animal behavior and well-being from Purdue University, says returning to work may cause separation issues for pets.

As fur friends have clicked keyboards or interrupted business Zoom calls, the distraction is offset by the sense of support pets for provided during trying times. As we transition back to work, how will we help our fur friends adjust to the separation?

Steve Dale, certified animal behavioral consultant, says pets handle the separation anxiety differently, such as howling, crying, accidents in the home, or even attempts to escape. 

Here are a few tips to help your fur friend adjust to your return to work.

  • Start a consistent feeding schedule. 
  • Encourage pets to be independent. Start by taking short walks by yourself and leaving them alone. Give your pet food puzzles or chew toys while you are out. When you walk out the door, have your pet sit and lay the food puzzle by them.
  • Stay relaxed as you get ready to leave the house. Practice putting on your shoes but not leave the house. This technique can help keep the pet relaxed as well.
  • Leave music or the television on while outside. Make sure you pick soothing music or television shows that are calming.
  • Give your pet attention when together. Spend at least 10 minutes in intentional playtime.  
  • If needed, invest in a camera. If pets are destroying items in the house or having bowel issues, a camera allows you to monitor and make adjustments.

As pet owners, it is crucial to let go of the guilt of leaving your pet alone. When you return home from work, make sure you schedule a time to spend with your fur friend. Whether taking a walk or playing with your pet, attention provides your fur friend with comfort. If you notice your pet continues to have  anxiety, contact your veterinarian.  


Source: Tessa Hobbs-Curley, Family Life Educator, University of Illinois Extension