Futurity

How to keep your pets happy while social distancing

Staying home for social distancing may disrupt your pets' routine. But recreating a schedule can keep them (and you) happy.
A man sits behind his dog looking worried, with his pug making a similar expression

Spending more time at home during COVID-19 social distancing can disrupt your pets’ lives, but there are things you can do to make things easier on them.

Humans aren’t the only species that finds routine comforting—our pets benefit from it as well. So making the transition to working from home can affect the entire family, pets included.

Margaret Gruen, assistant professor of behavioral medicine at North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, says that for dogs accustomed to staying home alone, the change is most likely welcome.

“Overall, dogs are happy to see you, particularly if they are crated or alone during the day. However, the same recommendations we’ve all been given for helping people adapt to the change—maintaining a schedule, eating at normal times, etc.—are important for pets as well. The more animals can predict what may happen, the more comfortable they are.

“For instance, you may be able to take your dog for an extra walk at midday now, which is great, but you should try to keep basically the same morning and evening routines in place that you had while working or going to school.”

If cats don’t act outwardly enthused, it doesn’t mean that they’re not pleased to have you around—it could just mean you’re interrupting their beauty sleep.

“Cats do sleep a good chunk of the day,” Gruen says. “So if the household is busier, they may be trying to find somewhere quiet to nap. You can watch them for signs of irritation, although you may find that they do become more interactive while you’re around.”

Keeping routines in place won’t just help your household run smoothly now—it will ease the eventual transition back to work and school.

“If you have a pet that spends time crated or in a particular space during the day when you’re gone, you can ease them back into that routine slowly by having them spend some time there while you’re home and gradually building that time up as you prepare to go back to your former schedule,” Gruen says.

“The more you can do to set them up for success now, the better it will be for everyone in the future.”

Source: NC State

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