LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - While it may seem early to think about preparing our pets for life once we return to the office, one East Texas veterinarian says it’s important to start as soon as you can.
Jack is an eight-year-old Pit bull, and his owner is Jennifer Crawford, who has been working from home like many others during the pandemic. Prior to working from home, she says, “Our routine was down to a pat, to the point where he knew when I pulled out that blow dryer to blow dry my hair, he started stirring.”
She’d take him out, he’d do his business, and come back inside, then she’d be on her way to the office. But in March, that all changed for both of them.
“Truthfully he was kind of like, wait, what are you doing here? Like, you’re supposed to leave. It kind of threw him off because he knew our routine,” Crawford said. “He found out, well, I don’t have to go outside and take care of my business so quickly. I can go outside multiple times during the day, and so I actually think he took advantage of that quite often.”
Jack and Jennifer are not alone in this change. Emily Parker, veterinarian and owner of Southern Haven Vet Clinic in Lufkin, said many people had to make that adjustment, and soon they’ll be making another as more people begin going into the office for work.
“You have to maintain a sense of routine, have a morning walk with them, spend time with them afterwards, and it has to be quality time,” Parker said. “You can’t just let them in the backyard and just passively watch them. They need that interaction and they’re going to act out if they don’t have that.”
Parker said pets, dogs especially, are pack animals and want to be with you. So when they’re used to having you around all the time, it’s going to have to be a gradual change. You may have to try new things.
“I think socialization, doggy day care is going to be imperative to fill in those gaps while you’re at work so they don’t feel alone,” Parker said. “Because if they’re home alone at your house, that’s when they’re going to start showing destructive behavior. Where they’re going to start manifesting behavioral anxiety, separation anxiety.”
Dogs aren’t the only ones to be mindful of. For those of you with cats, Parker said, “They’re queens and kings, but they do like to be adored, and when someone’s not there, they’re not being adored,” Parker said. “So they can act out too, and all cats are different. Some are more solo and some are more social. So be aware of that, having more treats and toys for them to play with, get them a new cat tree.”
Once back in the office, Parker said owners can also invest in a camera or monitor to watch their dogs from work. Some allow you to interact with them, too. Crawford said she’s already considered purchasing one.
“I might invest in it, I’ve actually kind of looked at it for when I do go back so that way I can kind of see him and check on him,” Crawford said.
As for when the best time to begin thinking about getting into this new routine, she says, “I would say start it as soon as possible. Even if you’re not having to go back to work, it would be good to have them be in a socialization setting, not just you,” Parker said. “So you’re not the only source of their socialization. So you’re not their only security blanket.”
Parker says don’t be alarmed if your pets do act out, as this is a time of change, and if you’re patient with them it can get better.