Post-Covid Era – What Shall We Do About It?

Coronavirus pandemic has had an impact on the lives of most people. Our travelling has been limited, we started spending most of our time at home – with our furry friends in many cases. However, it has also been a change for them. They suddenly had their master close almost all the time, sensed his/her moods, his/her worries and they had to get used to the change of their rhythm of life. They got used to our presence, regular walks and became accustomed to new, stable rituals. Now it seems that our lives may slowly get back to normal and there is a question – what shall we do about that? We may be forced to change those things overnight and their world will change again. But a cat or a dog doesn’t know that their master needs to go to work every morning. It shakes things up a lot for them and with changes, stress comes. That’s why it’s a good idea or maybe even a necessary thing to prepare them for those changes. Also, training for this will help us strengthen our bonds with our pets.

Cats are very sensitive to any changes in their surroundings and they can react to these changes with the deterioration of their health. It’s very important to prepare a cat for the upcoming changes. It’s a good idea to prepare a shelter where the cat can hide if it doesn’t already have one. A box or a kennel you can put on the spot where the cat likes to lie down. It’s important to gradually shorten the time the cat spends with the person during the day so it can start getting used to being alone. Even though it doesn’t seem like it, being alone might be stressful for a cat and it doesn’t do it well when it doesn’t have regular contact with the person she was used to. It’s enough if you put the cat in another room and close the door for a while and then come back for the pet. It’s important to offer the cat some treat, stroke it and talk to it at this moment. This way, the cat will learn that everything is okay when its owner disappears for a while.

Preparing a dog for the normal, “pre-covid” life is also very important. A dog is a very sociable animal which likes living in a pack and the separation from its “pack” might be very stressful. In such a situation, a dog might express its sadness very loudly. And that might be stressful for our neighbours.

The training for being alone needs to start with setting up a stricter regime. We should plan all activities, walks, workout and food for the same time and it should be done in the same rhythm as when we have to go to work. Dogs need such a strict schedule, it’s very important for their mental health and well-being.

At the same time, we should start preparing the dog for its “alone” time. In the beginning, put it into another room where it will spend a while alone. When you come back to the dog, praise and reward it. Gradually, make these intervals longer, up to 30 minutes. If the dog can be alone for 30 minutes, it can be basically alone for any period of time. A perfect way to teach the dog this is to set a “spot” for it. A small kennel for smaller dogs is very useful here and bigger dogs can stay in the hallway, for example. However, the dog needs to get used to one specific spot where it will be waiting for its owner. Say goodbye to the dog on this spot several days before going back to work and it will also welcome you there. Therefore, it’s very useful if this spot is somewhere close to the entrance to the living space. When saying goodbye, we shouldn’t use any commands, such as stay or wait, because we can’t stop the command after we leave. The dog would stop obeying it itself which is not good for its training and upbringing. It’s good to use words such as “bye” or “see ya” and use a treat, of course.

We are all looking forward to seeing the world in the way it used to be. Now it’s the best time to show our companions we love them, care about them and to help them to get “back to the normal” without any mental issues.

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