Quarantine has been challenging for all of us, but for our pets it has been a different story, as finally they had 24h of our time. Every day and every night, the pack has been together as one, never leaving our side, not even in the bathroom!
Finally the State of Emergency in Portugal will be lifted and life will slowly return to normal. That means many pet-parents will be going back to work. And our pups are back to being alone most of the day and this means a sudden change, one they may not understand.
Dogs can really struggle when it comes to drastic changes in their routine, especially if that means suddenly spending a lot more time home alone. Not surprisingly, many pet pawrents will notice changes in their dogs’ behaviour. Most common changes may include chewing furniture or mommy’s favourite shoes, making pipi or ‘chocolate cakes’ in the house, trying to escape, barking and showing general signs of restlessness and anxiety.
These new behaviours can be attributed to the change in their day-to-day routines, the sudden and drastic reduction in both mental and physical exercise and attention and a lack of constant stimulation they have grown accustomed to during our ‘stay-at-home lockdown’.
But with with some patience, understanding and effort, we can help our fur-kids to adjust and avoid those big eyed-doggie blues!
Here are some of Cooka’s tips:
In the days leading up to the return of ‘our normal’ , slowly start adjusting your schedule so it isn’t such a sudden and drastic change for our pets. If that means your kids will need to be fed, walked and allowed to go for ‘relieve’ at different times of the day than he/she now gotten used to, then gradually adjust to the new schedule.
Likewise, if your doggie will be spending a lot more time alone once the family returns to work, begin leaving him/her alone for gradually longer amounts of time in the coming days. A slow transition will be far less stressful for you and your pet.
To make your dog more relaxed during the day while you are away from home, plan for a little exercise before you go to work in the morning. Even just a good 20 minute walk or a bit of play in the backyard will help to release some of that bottled energy that could make him/her restless during the day.
If your fur-child has specific dietary requirements or is in need of frequent feedings throughout the day, then an automatic feeder may can help.
We also like IQ feeders or treat-stuffed KONG toys, to keep the kids busy throughout the day.
Make sure your garden or backyard is 100% escape-proof, if you leave the kids outdoors. Remember, separation anxiety can be almost as strong as a dog in heat and your pup might try anything to get out, looking for mommy or daddy.
We recently bought a gps tracker for Sherlock, as he likes to take Cooka for romantic strolls throughout the village of Sintra. No matter how much more fence we put up and how many holes we fixed in our walls, they always seem to find a new way out! So far we always had caring neighbours calling us, but once it was the GNR on the phone and we were ordered to come to town and pay the PIZZA man for his lost merchandise! It might make us laugh now, but back then we were more than worried (and upset).
Remember, the goal is to make sure your dog is relaxed, comfortable and happy while home alone. So make sure he/she have access to their favourite toys and a cozy place to snooze.
Noise is something our pets have grown accustomed to while all the family has been at home, so don’t leave the home quiet once you are back at work. Turn on the television or the radio (or Cooka’s Spotify play-list) before heading out. You could even create your own play-list with sounds you know your pet likes the most.
And remember, although you’ve been at work all day, your child has been eagerly awaiting your return — so don’t forget to exercise and play with him/her as soon as you get home. No matter how tired or not in the mood you may are! Just a little walkies around the neighbourhood is a great way to unwind for both of you.
And in case all these changes are still too much for your kids right now, then consider day-care, doggie-school or hire a dog-sitter to keep him/her busy throughout these days. Slowly and in time, he/she will adjust again to the new normal. (But will we?)