Pet Anxiety Prevention

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Several people have asked about what they can do to minimize stress for their pets as people return to a somewhat normal routine and start spending less time at the house. I will start by saying many pets will not have any issues with this switch, while others will have a harder time.

The first thing to do is start getting your pets used to times when you are not home. If possible, leave them at home for a shorter period of a time to start, 15 to 30 minutes, and after a while, increase to several hours. This way, when you do need to start working outside of the house again, it will not be as much of a change for them. For most animals, it is the first half-hour of being alone that is critical, so something to keep your fuzzy friends occupied during departure is great. One possible strategy is introducing activities that can encourage them to have fun when home alone, such as you hiding a toy like a Kong stuffed with food. Make sure things are only hidden on the ground level so you are not teaching your pets to jump on furniture or look for food on counters. For people with two or more pets, make sure that the access to food while you are gone does not create a situation of possessiveness or resource guarding, which could result in a fight. Also, some dogs may not be safe to leave home along with a chew toy if they are voracious chewers. If separation anxiety does start to develop, talking to your vet may be helpful to come up with strategies of either training, medical treatment, or a combination of both.