Quarantine was a stressful time for all of us. But it created the perfect environment for many of us to start a hobby, achieve a personal goal, or finally be able to grow our families with a new, furry addition.
Those in the last category, with a new dog or cat in the mix, might be noticing some concerning behavior from our furry friends now that we are getting back to normal. Unfortunately, we can't all keep our pandemic schedules, and any schedule change can be stressful and anxiety-inducing for our fur babies.
Here are some signs that your fur kid isn't adjusting very well to post pandemic life:
They have potty accidents they didn't have before
Destructive behavior (ripping apart the couch, chewing on the stairs, scratching doors) becomes common when you're away
Excessive barking, howling, or meowing
Acting out aggressively to strangers or new pets
Panting when not in the heat or exercising
Being lethargic or seeming depressed
They become restless
Your pet develops repetitive actions
They have a reduced or increased appetite
Does this sound like your fur baby? If so, you're not alone. Even seasoned pet owners are seeing changes in their pet's behavior after being at home for so long. Just because you've been home, however, doesn't mean you have to be stuck there because your pet has developed an over-attachment. Here's some steps you can start taking so that your transition back to work (or that long-deserved vacation) can happen without stressing your pet out.
Make sure your pet has structure. To prevent anxious behavior from becoming worse when you're away, you should always make sure your pet has structure. This could mean they have a set schedule for meals, playtime, and potty time. It could also mean that you give your pet boundaries in your home. By establishing structure, you are letting your pet know that you are in control. Even better, you are setting a standard operating procedure for your pet to follow and they will be able to find security in their boundaries, instead of relying on your presence to keep them calm and collected.
Teach them basic commands. If your pet (specifically your dog) doesn't know basic commands, teach them now. It's never too late to teach an old dog new tricks and obedience training is not only a great way to bond with your pet, it helps instill good behavioral habits.
Give them something else to focus on. No matter how structured or well-behaved your pet is, they may still feel overwhelmed when you're away. A great tactic to help keep them from destructive or rambunctious behavior is to give them something else to focus on while you're gone. This could be something as simple as a kong filled with their favorite snacks or an extra scratching post. For more intellectual stimulation, there are puzzles and games you can leave behind for your pet as well.
Don't make abrupt changes. We've spent the last year dealing with the unpredictable. However, one thing we know for sure is that we are starting to leave the house more. To avoid a total anxiety melt-down from your pet, start by going out for short intervals at a time and slowly extend your time away from home. For example, you can start by heading out for one or two hours to grab groceries every few days. Then, the next week, you can spend up to four hours away, then six, then eight. As your pet is adjusting, they won't always be perfect.
Get your fur baby a buddy. If you're concerned about your pet's behavior while you're out of the house, get someone to swing by to check on them. With Fluff, you can order a pet sitter to your home, like you would a ride-share, for some on-demand playtime. No matter who you get to visit your pet, they'll enjoy the extra loving.
Start getting your pet used to other people. If you are planning an extended time away from home, make sure your pet has time to get acclimated to other people, ideally the person who will be watching them while you're away. If your pet has the chance to get used to another person, they will be less likely to act out when you're enjoying your getaway. For this reason, Fluff offers 20% off of all services scheduled during the week before your vacation dates.
Make your home "oops" proof. No matter how much you try and prepare your pet, they may still be a nervous Nelly when you are out of the house. That's why it is always a good idea to make your home anxiety-proof by keeping your pet in an area where they can't do as much damage. This could mean making sure your dog is crate trained, or keeping your cat in an uncarpeted area.