Since the cloistering of people in their homes because of COVID-19, pets have enjoyed the company of their family members. But, if the adults return to the workplace and the children to school, pets will abruptly find themselves alone. As many know, dogs especially like routine, and older pets do not adjust well to change. Without some conditioning and preparation for being alone again during the day, pets can easily become stressed and experience anxiety as the family resumes their departures for the day.
Dogs respond best to gradual change. So, a slow progression to a pet’s being left alone again is an excellent way to help the dog re-adjust. Owners can desensitize their dogs to their return to work by putting on a jacket, hat or shoes. They can also pick up their keys as an indication to their dogs that they are leaving. Conditioning dogs to play independently by putting them behind a pet gate will help them occupy themselves when alone.
The comedian George Carlin joked about how dogs will greet their owners as excitedly as if they have been left alone for hours even though the owner has been gone no more than 10 or 15 minutes. This typical behavior seems to indicate that canines do not have the concept of time that humans do. Therefore, re-conditioning them should not be difficult with short departures. Although certain breeds of cats require much attention, in general, they are more independent than dogs. So, if the owners pet them and play with them as they would when they returned from work, the cats should easily adjust to being alone again if provided some interactive play.
Cats are often amused by feathers/birds that hang from a pole or having an interactive toy that satisfies their hunting instincts. Dogs enjoy chewing toys or rawhide bones, both of which fill time. Having the dog play independently with chew toys or other objects it likes while the owner does something else is also a way to encourage the dog to be self-sufficient. The dog’s play with these things can later occupy the pet and be a source of comfort while the owner is absent.
Wrapping the dog in a small blanket as the owner plays with it will put the human scent on this blanket and later provide the dog a sense of security while the owner is away. Owners can also leave behind one of their old socks or something that it will not matter if the dog chews it.