With coronavirus restrictions slowly being lifted, owners may have to start leaving their pets home alone as they return to work – so Battersea has issued advice to make the transition as smooth as possible for the nation’s dogs and cats.

Janine Pemberthy, Canine Behaviour and Training Manager at Battersea Brands Hatch said: “As pets across the country have adjusted to having their owners at home 24/7, some dogs and cats may find it distressing to spend more time alone. While dogs are more likely to suffer from separation anxiety, cats can also find it stressful when their routine changes suddenly.

There are steps every owner can start taking now to ease this anxiety and Battersea is always available for advice if you need more help.”

Top tips

  • Getting back to normal is going to be important for humans too, not just animals! Start trying to set your alarm for the same time you normally would if you were going in to work and going through your normal morning routine.
  • If you are currently working from home, it’s a good idea to start working in a different room or area from your pet.
  • When you go to your desk to start work, give your dog or cat any toys and treats you normally would when you leave the house. If you haven’t been utilising enrichment toys previously, now is the ideal time to give them a try – puzzle feeders are great at keeping both dogs and cats mentally stimulated.
  • Build up time alone slowly and reward good behaviour. Start small, even if that means you only close the door for 30 seconds at first.
  • Exercise your dog before you leave them so they’ve had chance to burn off some energy. Make sure your pet has access to things to keep them busy, for example a filled Kong or hard chew toys for a dog, a puzzle feeder with treats for a cat.
  • Building up your dog’s confidence with rewards for good behaviour and mental stimulation – for example, teaching them new tricks.
  • Cats might have become accustomed to having someone home all day to let them in and out of the house or having open windows to use for quick access. Suddenly restricting this access might be confusing, so it could be a good time to consider installing a cat flap.

Consider purchasing a camera so you can see what your pet gets up to when left alone. If you can see what your pet does when you leave them, then you can interpret the issues more easily.

If you feel you have tried everything already, you may need to recruit the help of a trainer or behaviourist.

 For more pet behaviour advice, visit https://www.battersea.org.uk/pet-advice.

If you need to talk to someone about your dog’s behaviour, call Battersea’s behaviour advice line on 0203 8878 347 (Mon-Fri 8am-5pm).