Lockdown restrictions have been easing in the UK for the past few weeks. In England we can now eat in restaurants and pubs as well as visit places of culture such as museums and galleries. With the easing of lockdown pet owners will have some important considerations to make when it comes to their pets. Many of us have been working from home either partially or fully for the past year which has meant a lot of time spent with our cats, dogs and other pets. Changes to our schedule won’t only affect us, but also them, and it might be that you need to prepare them for their change in routine. This will mainly affect dogs, but many cats, especially indoor cats who spend a lot of time around their owners, may suffer anxiety due to separation as well.
Signs your dog or cat might be anxious
Changes in your pet’s routine due to the easing of lockdown, like any changes to their daily lives, can cause stress and anxiety. Our pets can be sensitive during times of change, especially if it means being away from you for longer periods of time. If you’re heading back to work after a period of working from home, or if you’re just generally out of the house more due to having more socialising options, your dog or cat may suffer from separation anxiety. Signs of anxiety in your pet include the following:
- Destructive behaviour - Such as chewing soft furnishings of furniture. Cats might scratch around the house where they wouldn’t usually.
- Becoming more vocal - Barking, howling or whining until you come home.
- Toileting inside the house - Dogs might forget their toilet training manners and do their business in the house, whilst cats might toilet outside of their litter tray.
How to get your pet used to post lockdown life
There are a number of things we can do to help our pets get used to a new routine. These tips can help in many situations, not just with post-lockdown life. If you’re moving to a new house or going on holiday you might adopt some of these tactics to help keep your pet calm and relaxed.
Encourage Independence - This can be done in the following ways:
- Spend time in a different room to your pet. Start with short periods at first and gradually extend the time you’re away from them.
- Give them some alone time exploring the garden. Just ensure your garden is secure and they can’t get out!
- Encourage them to take naps in their own bed. Not just next to you on the sofa.
- Introduce new and interesting toys such as treat filled chew toys and other interactive toys. Leave your dog alone with them for short periods of time, again extending this time gradually. Your dog will have a newfound focus (the toy) and chewing is also known to relax dogs.
Share the responsibility - If your pet is used to one particular person, try to introduce other family members of friends to the situation. As your pet gets used to other people, they will begin to feel safe and secure in situations when you’re not around.
Plenty of exercise - Keeping our pets exercised is always important. Long walks with plenty of things to see and smell will help expel excess energy and help to keep them calm.
Helping Cats get Used to Post-Lockdown Life
As we said before, many cats won’t have been as affected by lockdown life as dogs have. Cats, even indoor ones, are very often more independent and even if you’ve been around them a lot more, changes to routine won’t worry them as much as they will dogs.
Having said this, some cats are more affectionate than others though. If you have an indoor breed such as a Ragdoll, they may well like having you around and they may show some signs of anxiety during the easing of lockdown. We’d suggest trying some calming products around the house that will help keep your kitty free from stress. A Feliway plug-in or some Pet Remedy products will help to keep them relaxed when they show signs of being nervous. The pheromones released in these products will help to relax your feline family members and help to stop negative behaviours such as scratching furniture or spraying.
Take Your Time and Make Changes Gradually
Whatever kind of pet you have, try to plan ahead and make any changes gradually. Life after lockdown will be strange for many of us; human, canine and feline alike. Try your best to make small changes gradually and take note of your pets’ behaviour. All pets are different, and some will take to routine changes better than others. If you need any more advice, it’s always worth chatting to your vet who will be happy to discuss your pet in particular.
Our Favourite Pet Calming Products
There are a number of brilliant and effective calming products for pets available. Here are a few of our favourites:
- Pet Remedy All-in-One Calming Kit
- Feliway Plug-in-Diffuser
- Relaxapet for Cats and Relaxapet for Dogs
- ZenDog Calming Shirt
- WildDog Calm Balm