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RSPCA ACT urges Canberrans to prepare pets for their return to work

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While many Canberrans have relished time at home surrounded by their fur babies during COVID, RSPCA ACT says they need a post-COVID plan. 

While we may see eased restrictions as life getting ‘back to normal’, our pets see a different side of the story.

For pets, having their humans home more than ever has likely resulted in a shift in mindset when it comes to their daily routine, meaning the shift back to ‘normal’ could come as a shock.

To minimise any difficulties pets—and their humans—may have when it comes to eased restrictions and a gradual return to offices, the RSPCA ACT urges Canberrans to create a plan.

This is especially important for minimising the risk of unwanted behaviours, which RSPCA ACT CEO Michelle Robertson says is one of the main reasons animals are surrendered to their care.

“It is important to strike a good work-pet balance as we transition back to regular life,” she explains.

“Begin by writing down a plan and ensure you have everything you need to implement it. Consider boredom busters like enrichment activities, and how you will prevent separation anxiety from occurring.”

This may sound like overkill to some pet owners, but Michelle says the impact of our drastic shift in lifestyle on pets should not be underestimated.

“Please don’t give up before you have given it a good go. Remember why you wanted a pet in the first instance, and please remember that all good things and relationships are worth investing in. Most negative behaviours can be changed with love, time, patience and training.”

“However, if for whatever reason you are unable to look after your pet the way that it should be, please get in touch with us or another reputable rescue group.  Please do not use social media platforms to rehome and please don’t give your pets away to people you do not know.”

RSPCA ACT’S tips for preparing your pet for post-COVID life

  • Prepare your pet with mini absences. Even when you are at home, it’s important to give your pet limited periods of separation. If you have been at home all the time, build an adjustment period of separation and gradually extend it to a full day away.
  • When returning to work, start your day by going for a walk, vigorous play or other exercise with your pet prior to leaving. This will help tire them out and guarantee plenty of snooze time for the rest of the day.
  • Give your pet their own job! Puzzles to solve, toys to chew, treats to look for or stuffed Kongs can make great enrichment activities to prevent your pet from getting bored. Keep your pets mentally stimulated by rotating toys.
  • Avoid saying dramatic goodbyes to your pet when you leave or come home. Give them a special treat before you head out the door, so they associate you leaving with something good. If your dog senses that leaving is a bad thing, they will be more likely to develop separation anxiety. When arriving home, reward calm behaviour with attention and treats.
  • Other ideas include getting a reputable dog walker, join doggy daycare or where feasible consider neighbourhood pet playdates while humans are at work.
  • Some animals can respond well to music and ambient sound—leave a radio or television on when you leave to create familiarity for your pet. Human voices can be comforting when alone.

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