Pets struggling to adapt as owners head back to the office

Dog trainers and animal behaviourists are being flooded with calls from people seeking advice because their pets are having a hard time adjusting to their absence.

Pet adoption rates soared during the pandemic, as people spent more time at home and found they enjoyed the company of a furry companion.

Now that people are returning to the office – even those back for just a couple of hours a week – have noticed their dogs and cats appearing stressed.

“They’re coming back home to neighbour complaints about noises, like dogs howling and crying the whole day,” said SPCA-accredited dog trainer Sarah Shapiro-Ward.

Owners with in-home cameras report seeing their dogs pacing and digging at doorways.

“Cats, on the other hand, may display more subtle signs of stress, so it’s really important to pay attention to how your cat is feeling,” said Shapiro-Ward.

Even pets who were used to an empty house before the pandemic are now used to someone being home, and are having a tough time adjusting to being alone again.

Dogs, in particular, thrive on a routine, so Shapiro-Ward advises getting them used to a new schedule long before heading back to work. For example, begin adjusting walk times to the new workday.

“That way, when you do leave for the office, rather than everything changing all at once, only one aspect is changing,” she added.

Also, try leaving home for short periods of time, then gradually increase the duration of absences.

Other options include daycare and dog walkers, but after months of almost no business, they are suddenly scrambling to keep up with demand.