‘Play it cool’: Training your pet to be without you all day when you head back to work, school post-pandemic

Animals and Wildlife

NEWINGTON, Conn. (WTNH) — Mass COVID-19 vaccinations mean big changes are coming. As more and more people go back to work and school, their pets may end up feeling neglected.

“We’ve got pets that need to adjust to this change to avoid frustrated pets and frustrated families,” explained James Bias, the executive director of the Connecticut Humane Society.

RELATED: CT ranks #3 in COVID vaccine distribution nationwide, but cases with variants are rising

Before you give up working from home entirely, Bias suggests getting up and leave the house for at least a little while.

“You can break it up into small, little bites so that it’s not just a full day. Boom, we’re back to the office or back to school full time.”

Give your pets something to do. Puzzle feeders: make them work for their food.

“Keep them active, keep them thinking, tire them out,” said the Humane Society’s Marketing and Communications Director Susan Wollschlager. “So hopefully, when you do have to leave the house, they’re ready for a nap.”

To keep a dog out of mischief, you can put her in a crate for a while. It’s important to do that slowly.

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“So, what we’re going to do is just have kind of near the crate first and start eating treats around it so that she’s just used to being close,” explained Behavior Coordinator Becca Meyer. “Then, once she gets a little more comfortable, she’s kind of looking for more treats, so what we can do is just toss a couple in.”

A nice comfy blanket under her paws helps, too.

The changes and lockdowns of the pandemic have meant some pets are not used to seeing other people or animals. We asked the experts at the Humane Society how pet owners can get them socialized to the new normal.

One answer: Try taking your pet to a busy parking lot.

“And just sit out there with the pet in the car and allow people to walk past your vehicle,” Bias said.
That will also help them get used to seeing people in masks since you probably don’t wear one around the house.

Finally, when you do come and go, play it cool.

“Sometimes, we get home and it’s like, “Mommy and Daddy’s home!’ and we really make it a big deal,” Bias said. “Just make it a normal course of the ebb and flow of leaving and coming back home.”

In other words, if you act normal, it will seem more normal to your pets.

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