Over the last few months, pet industry trends have shown that more people have spent larger amounts of money and time on their animals than in previous years, and it’s easy to see why. For many working professionals, their pets have been their constant companions from the beginning of the pandemic. But as more Americans return to work, it may be time for you to prepare your pet for the new routine of office work.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected numerous aspects of our personal and professional lives. One of the most significant changes many people have noticed is the increased amount of time they’ve been spending at home with their pets. The recent increase in off-site work opportunities has also created a similar rise in animal adoptions, reports market research firm Packaged Facts in the report Durable Dog and Cat Petcare Products, 3rd Edition (October 2020).
Packaged Facts survey results confirm that as a result of the virus, 81% of pet owners are going outside of the home less, 78% are doing less leisure travel, 58% are working away from their typical workplace, and 52% are doing less business travel.
Pet owners staying at home more has been good for both pets and for the pet industry. For example, Packaged Facts reports that changes in travel and the implementation of work-from-home orders mean less call for items such as carriers, but more demand for items at home, such as new beds, gates, bowls, and litter boxes. As pet owners travel less, they have more time to spend at home with pets, taking them for walks (using collars and leashes) and playing with them (with toys). Further, owners who are working from home require toys that will serve as a distraction for pets who would otherwise require attention and supervision, but are also interested in toys that allow them to participate in play time with their pets.
However, many pet owners could soon find themselves working from the office, with countless businesses reopening their doors. After so long at home, over half of pet owners will feel guilty leaving their pets when they go back to work, according to survey results from Freshpet conducted in July 2020, and many are considering getting a new pet to keep their pet company at that time.
Four Essential Tips
While your animals may have enjoyed the attention they have received during your quarantine, your return to work could create unwanted stress for your pets. To help reduce separation anxiety, use these tips below to prepare your furry friends for your new work arrangements
1. Prepare for the Unexpected
Although returning to work can be difficult for your pets, it can be even harder for you. Being at the office all day can make you worry about their health and safety while you are away. No matter how well you take care of your pets, sometimes accidents can happen along with unexpected vet bills.
That’s why you should create an emergency spending account for your pet with an online banking platform. Using this digital service will allow you to automatically transfer money to your account each pay period without visiting a bank. You can also quickly move funds to your checking account through a mobile app on your smartphone. So the next time you need to pay an expensive vet bill, you won’t need to worry about finding the cash to cover it. Starting an emergency fund for your pet isn’t only a fiscally responsible thing to do. It can give you peace of mind as you return to the office.
2. Re-establish a Morning Routine
Before you head into work, take the opportunity to prepare your pets ahead of time. To do this, resume any previous routines you had before you switched to working outside the office. Reviving old habits will also signal to your pets that your schedule is changing. This process will prepare them for your regular absences as you head back to working outside the home. A consistent routine can reduce stress in cats as well, since most tend to adjust better to changes when they can predict daily activities.
3. Practice Leaving Home
To take your morning routine a step further, practice leaving your home in the morning hours. Start your day as if you are preparing for work at the office by waking up early and getting dressed. You can also pack your briefcase or backpack for the day. You should make sure to spend some time with your pets in the morning and provide them with food and water like you normally would when leaving home.
For the first practice session, just leave home for about twenty minutes. Then for the following sessions, you can go for increasingly larger amounts of time. This method will show your pets that it is normal for them to be left at home alone and that their owner will always return after a brief time away.
4. Entertain Your Pets
Unfortunately, not everyone will have enough time to practice a morning routine with their pets before returning to work. If that is the case, you may want to find ways to entertain and distract your animals while you’re at the office. Thankfully, there are several excellent toy options that will keep them busy all day long.
You can quickly reduce separation anxiety by giving your cat or dog something to do. This distraction can include a chew toy, treat dispenser, or even a new bed. Dogs are especially susceptible to boredom. To curb any anxious or destructive behaviors, you may want to invest in a high-quality teething stick. This type of toy can give your dog an outlet for their energy without creating a massive mess in your home.
Cats can also be entertained with toys, but you might see more benefits from getting them a new piece of furniture to climb on. Cat trees give your pet somewhere to sleep and play while expanding their vertical territory. You can make this new addition even better by placing it next to a window so your cat can enjoy a view of the outside world.