Top tips to keep pets happy when you return to work

Published: 28 January 2021

With many Cardinia residents returning to work following summer holidays and the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, now’s the time to start preparing your furry friends for this change.

There’s no doubt about it, your pets have loved having you around but a sudden change to routine and environment can sometimes result in unwanted behaviour including excessive barking, damage to furniture and escape attempts. 

With around 18,000 pets registered in Cardinia Shire and a surge in pet ownership during the COVID-19 pandemic, Cardinia Shire Council rangers have pulled together their top tips to help you and your fur babies navigate your return to work. 

Talk to your neighbours and let them know you are returning to work so they can report back if your dog is being vocal while you are away. This means you can be responsive and address the behaviour promptly. Being proactive goes a long way to building understanding and empathy in your neighbourhood while avoiding complaints to Council.  

Desensitisation is important to get your pet used to the idea you will eventually need to leave the house. Grab your keys, your face mask and your wallet and sit back down on the couch for a few minutes. This will get your pet used to the idea that this doesn’t always mean you will leave. Gradually leave the house for a few minutes, then a few hours and finally all day to ease them back into being alone. They’ll soon learn you will return and there’s no need to bark, scratch furniture or search for you! 

Top tips for separation anxiety  

  1. Pets love a routine – this means they know what to expect and when, so set yourself and your pet up for success. 
  2. Gradually spend less time with your pet while home. While you’re working, separate yourself from your pet so they understand being on their own is OK.  
  3. Feed your pet in another room or outside so they realise they can enjoy things without you being by their side. 
  4. Make or buy some long-lasting treats or enrichment toys to keep them occupied and boredom at bay. 
  5. Leave music playing or the TV on for noise. Choose a music for pets playlist and play this when you are at home as well as when you are away. Your fur babies are smart! If you play the playlist when you are away, they will soon associate the sound with stress. 'Canine Lullabies' and 'Through a Pet’s Ear' are two to try. 
  6. Consider using a pet sitter or doggy day care for your initial return to work. 
  7. Enrol in training and socialisation classes or consider in home dog training if necessary 
  8. Give them (and yourself!) a workout prior to leaving them for the day.  
  9. If you are worried about your pet’s behaviour, speak to your friendly vet for advice.   

For more information about pets in Cardinia including information on registration and dog parks visit www.cardinia.vic.gov.au/pets

For more information about Cardinia Council services visit www.cardinia.vic.gov.au/servicechanges