Unlock pet re(training): How to teach furry friends to be home alone, again?
Here’s are some ways to ease your pets’ transition from lockdown to a ‘new’ normal life amid Covid-19 pandemic.Updated: Jun 20, 2020 23:08 IST
Has your dog grown used to having you available to throw a ball in the garden? Or has your cat adjusted to your constant presence in the living room? Lockdown meant changes in schedules, both for you and your furry friends. But as the world learns how to deal with the pandemic, and slowly opens up to go back to work in office, there is a need to train pets to the new normal, once again.
“At this point in time, many of us have stayed home for an extended period of more than two months. This has meant being around our pets constantly...”– Raj Mariwala, canine and feline behaviourist
“At this point in time, many of us have stayed home for an extended period of more than two months. This has meant being around our pets constantly. But, for some, it has also been about taking over pet related duties that someone else may have been responsible for, such as feeding pets or taking them for walks,” says Raj Mariwala, a Mumbai-based canine and feline behaviourist. The expert suggest that readjusting your pet to your new schedule needs to be undertaken in steps. “Go for a drive if you have access to a car, or walk in the compound before you run an errand. Remember that because our dogs and cats observe us keenly — we have to truly look like we are leaving — so no “home clothes” or “home slippers”. Use these signals of departure to ensure when you are teaching them gradually that you mean business about leaving,” adds Mariwala.
For those who became pet parents during the lockdown, such as Naveen Kumar, a Delhi-resident who adopted a dog from a shelter during the lockdown, these tips are a blessing. “Bruno has been my constant companion for almost three months now. But as I have rejoined my office, I’m trying to acclimatise him to my absence by leaving the house for a few hours every day.”
Some researches suggest that keeping young animals in a familiar room for one or two hours alone for a day makes them comfortable with isolation. “Some may see a dog being destructive in the house with furniture, objects or soiling the house even if they have been taken out to pee,” describes Mariwala.
“While training them, give them as much time and attention as possible. Play with them and feed them yourself at regular hours.” – Dr Bhawna Kalra, a vet
Pets may manifest distress by panting, scratching at the door, whining when their owners prepare to leave home, or barking or whining when alone at home. Like humans, animals also show separation anxiety, but medicines are not the solution. Dr Bhawna Kalra, a Gurugram-based vet, opines, “While training them, give them as much time and attention as possible. Play with them and feed them yourself at regular hours. For teething days, give your pet a toy, or your old T-shirt to play with. One can also make their pet used to a certain environment by keeping the TV or the radio on, so that the sound gives them a sense of normalcy.”
Author tweets @bhagat_mallika