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The New Normal: Working from Home with Your Pet

As lockdown continues, many pet owners around South Africa are working remotely, which means we get to spend a lot more time with our animal friends. While it can be a lot of fun to have your fur-babies hanging out in your home office, it can also bring about some unexpected challenges.

This is a stressful time for us humans, and it’s easy for our animals to pick up on your mood if you’re feeling anxious. This can lead to behavioural changes that disrupt your day – for example, your pets might want more attention than usual, or be more likely to scratch and chew things around the house.

With this in mind, it’s important to look for ways to help reduce stress and prevent boredom, so you can focus on getting your tasks done and your pet can peacefully enjoy your company.

Start the Day off Right

If you have a dog, make sure they get their daily walk during the allowed morning exercise time period (6AM to 9AM).

A walk around the block will be good exercise for you both, and will also help your dog to work off excess energy. They will be calmer and more likely to have a rest once you get home and start your working day.

Set Designated Times for Play

Working from home can be full of distractions, and when your dog or cat is insisting on playtime it’s all too easy to lose your focus and fall behind on your work. A good way to handle this is to set your play sessions at certain times every day, and stick to this schedule so that your pet starts knowing when to expect it. This will also encourage you to take regular breaks away from your screen, and give you a fun way to de-stress with your cat or dog.

Remember that young and highly energetic pets will need regular play sessions throughout the day, while senior pets might need less physical exertion and gentler play activities.

Separate Work and Play Spaces

While it might be nice to have your dog or cat nestled under your desk while you work, it can certainly lead to more interruptions and distractions. Setting up a separate work space for yourself will help you to draw clear boundaries between work and play. This is better for your work-life balance as well as your pet’s routine.

Keep a clear divide between your home office and your pet’s play space. Make sure that your pet has a safe and comfortable space to stay while you focus on work.

Keep Your Pet Occupied

Give your pet ways to entertain themselves and prevent boredom while you’re in your work space. Toys and puzzles are great boredom-busters for dogs and cats alike, and cats will appreciate having a scratching post or a climbing frame to explore.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money on toys to keep your pet entertained; something as simple as a tennis ball or a squeaky chew-toy can provide hours of fun.

Check In with Your Vet

Vets are still providing consultations and services throughout every stage of lockdown, so if you have any concerns about your pet’s health or stress levels, always look for professional advice. Set up a phone or video consultation with your vet – only make an appointment in emergencies or serious situations.

Ask your vet about stress management products, like prescription foods to help combat stress-induced health issues. For example, your pet might need additional digestive support or urinary tract care to keep them in optimum health.

You can order your pet’s food, supplements and toys online, and many vet shops will offer contactless delivery to your door.

Be Willing to be Flexible

This is a strange and uncertain time for all of us, and it’s important to remember that “business as usual” isn’t always an option. Don’t expect to get it right all the time, and be open to switching up your routine when you need to.

This is an opportunity to cherish the extra time you get with your loved ones, and that includes those with fur and whiskers! Looking after your physical and emotional health – and that of your pet – will mean you can enjoy it to the full.

Date Published: 19 June 2020