Quarantine has been challenging for nearly all of us, but if there’s one thing about it that’s been downright pleasant, it’s all the extra time I’ve been able to spend with my two dogs. I know other pet parents out there agree.
As we get further along into Phase 2 of the Governor’s three-phase plan to reopen the state, more of us will be venturing outside the home more frequently, and many of us will be returning to the office. How can we best help our dogs avoid the “Back to Work” blues and prepare for added solo time?
I spoke with Pia Silvani, a pet behavioral specialist — also the Interim Director of the Asheville Humane Society’s Behavioral Department — to find out what pet parents can do to make the transition as painless as possible. Here’s what Pia suggests doing ASAP:
- Stop taking your pets with you everywhere (even if that’s just inside your house). “If they’re clingy, and they follow you around from room to room, close the door and leave them alone,” she says. “If they’ve been sleeping in the bed with you throughout quarantine, put them back in their dog bed.”
- Leave your furkids alone for a few hours each day. Now that we can leave home again, step outside and run some errands. “Little spurts of time away will help them get used to you leaving again,” Pia notes.
- Stick with a routine. If you’ve been going on lots of walks in quarantine, keep them up, but get up early in the morning so you can fit them in. “It’s very important to make sure your pet gets adequate exercise,” says Pia. Similarly, if you keep music or the TV on during the day, be sure to leave it on for your pooch while you’re gone.
- Start waking up earlier. If you’ve been sleeping in and lounging in bed, start getting up earlier so your dog gets used to it, too.
- If you work remotely, then implement some distance at home. Start by shutting the door to the room where you’re working. Even seemingly small changes like this can help your pet acclimate to spending less time with you.
- Bring your dog along to the office if you can. Let your pooch join you for half a day and then take them home.
- Extend your lunch hour to run errands or other things you might do after work. That way, you can go directly home to see the one(s) who’ve been waiting for you all day long.
- Talk to your neighbor and see if they can check in on your dog during the day (alternately, hire a pet sitter/walker). These folks can let your dog out to relieve themself and give a few belly rubs.
- Keep in touch with your veterinarian. If your dog shows signs of anxiety, there are lots of natural products to help pets feel more calm + comfortable, Pia says. In the event they need something stronger, your vet can prescribe the appropriate medication.
If you want to support Asheville Humane, they’re always in need of donations, volunteers, and fosters. And if you want help teaching your pet better manners, Pia also offers obedience classes. Editor Brook is excited to begin socially distant classes with her baby boy Lamar this weekend.