Whether it’s your idea of paradise or you’re experiencing cabin fever, there’s no denying that the current work-from-home arrangement created by the pandemic has been a big change. Some people have embraced it, converting their kitchen tables to home offices. Others are just waiting for it to end so they can go back to working with their colleagues face to face.
For people working from home with pets, the presence of their four-legged friends has added another dimension. Having your cat or dog share the couch as you work has been one of the few silver linings to come out of the current situation. This is not only because of the constant companionship pets provide, but they also give you a ready-made excuse to close your laptop and spend some quality time together. Working from home with dogs or cats probably has made quarantining a little easier to handle.
However, the day will come that workers will start returning to the office. When that happens, your pets most likely won’t get the memo. They’ve grown accustomed to having you home all the time, and they may have a difficult time adjusting to the old normal. To help you get along better with your furry officemates and prepare them for a return to being by themselves during the day, here are a few words of advice.
Getting along better with your pets during the workday
Although it’s nice to have some company while you toil away in your home, animals easily can become a distraction. Keeping your pet entertained while at work ensures that it will be kept happy and content, which could help lower your stress levels. For dogs, you may need to ignore attention-seeking behaviors such as whimpering and scratching at the door. Your pooch is a creature of habit, so it’s also important to maintain the same routines it became used to before you stayed home. This means sticking to a feeding schedule, going for walks at the usual times and crating during the workday if that’s what you did when leaving the house. Giving it a treat or toy inside the crate should help alleviate any anxiety.
Keeping your cat occupied while working is a little different. You want to give it something to stimulate curiosity and burn some energy. One example is to show a video of birds or fish, then follow with a few minutes of playing with wand toys. You could also hide some treats inside a paper bag and let the feline try to get it open.
One general tip to prevent you from becoming distracted while working alongside your pet is to designate a workspace at home and keep the door closed. Whether it’s a bedroom or home office, be consistent about keeping that space off-limits to your animal companions while you’re on the clock.
Preparing for a return to the old routine
Going back to the office after a long time of telecommuting can be a big adjustment. However, it’s bound to be even rougher on a pet, who may be shocked by your sudden absence after such a long time spent with you all day. Here are some tips on how to work on separation anxiety with a dog or cat.
Don’t make a big deal out of leaving. Stay calm and keep goodbyes brief. If you can, start putting on your coat and shoes. Then, sit on the couch or otherwise linger in the house for a few minutes. This will help the animal adjust to the idea of you preparing to leave without immediately being alone.
Maintain your distance sometimes. Install a baby gate or put your pet in its crate, but make sure it can still see you. Keeping the animal separated physically but still in sight will establish that you won’t always be able to cuddle or play, although you won’t be gone forever.
Wait for “happy time” to introduce changes. If you’re going to have someone check in on the furry friends while you’re at work or crate them, wait until playtime or after meals to introduce them to the idea.
Working remotely was a big, unexpected change for many people as well as their pets. Going back to a regular workday will be another. As long as you’re thoughtful about how to manage these changes, however, you should be able to avoid a lot of hassle and heartache.
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