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How To Help Your Pet Get Ready For When You Go Back To Work

KPBS reporter Claire Trageser with her dog Kima, June 14, 2021.

Photo by Claire Trageser

Above: KPBS reporter Claire Trageser with her dog Kima, June 14, 2021.

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With many of us working from home for the past year and a half, our pets have gotten used to having us around.

Aired: June 16, 2021 | Transcript

There was a cartoon early on in the pandemic that showed dogs calling each other on the phone to say, "how could life have gotten this good?"

Meanwhile cats were calling each other to say, "how could things have become this terrible?"

Listen to this story by Claire Trageser.

RELATED: Dog Fostering Is Up As San Diegans Look For Quarantine Company

It's a joke that our dogs are thrilled to have us working from home all days, while cats are irritated, or at least don't care, but there's also truth to it. With many of us working from home for the past year and a half, our pets have gotten used to having us around.

But now, as people begin to return to the office, those pets will have to adjust to us being away. That's especially true for "pandemic puppies" — many people adopted pets during the pandemic, and those pets may have never known an empty house.

RELATED: While Cats And Dogs Fared Well During Pandemic, Less Popular Pets Have Struggled

Amanda Kowalski, the director of behavior programs at the San Diego Humane Society has tips for so-called "pet parents" to help them prepare their pets for more alone time at home.

They include:

● Gradually exposing a dog to your departure, starting with 10 minutes. Leave them with food or something to play with or chew on.

● Slowly start extending the time you are gone. Your pet will associate you leaving with something positive if you leave them something fun to do.

● Drive around the block and return. Pay attention to your dog’s behavior when you return.

● If you are working from home now, start exposing them to departure up to four times a day.

● Ensure your pets are set up for success by giving them plenty of exercise and enrichment throughout the day, including before you leave, to occupy their time while you’re gone.

● If you’ve used daycare or dog walking services in the past, start working those back into your routine. You can also be home to reward appropriate responses when visitors arrive — remember, just like us, some pets haven’t had as many visitors this year!

● Don’t make a big fuss when returning. Keep it friendly and casual to help avoid increased excitement around your return.

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