Taking Care of Your Pet While You Work
I recently began a new job, and that meant a sudden transition from being home all day with Bullett and Eowyn to being gone from 8-5. Of course I miss them, and I know they miss me and Toby when we’re gone. Staying home, working from home, or bringing pets to the office is not an option for everyone and there are ways to ensure your fur-babies at home are happy and content while you are away. Below are some methods we use for Bullett and Eowyn when we aren’t home.
Before you begin, I find it important to mention that no matter how well you know your pets...they are still animals. Somewhat recently, I came home to our “pet-safe” garbage pan tipped over, and garbage strewn around the house. Bullett had been chewing on a lot of it, which left smaller pieces of trash all over the place. The icing on the cake was finding dog poop in the middle of the living room floor as well. Pets are far from perfect, and while my telling you this might seem like common sense...it is something we all must remember despite the efforts we put into their care. There is also no such thing as a perfect pet owner, and we don’t have all the answers. In the heat of a moment I need to remember this, anticipate that it will happen again, but we continue to practice our methods of making sure Bullett and Eowyn are comfortable and content at home while we are away 9-5, Monday through Friday.
If your pet is an only-pet that is friendly, social, and you can tell clearly thrives on your companionship, you may want to consider getting your pet a companion so your furry friend doesn’t get lonely. It used to only be Bullett and Owyn, and a leopard gecko that sleeps all day in a tank is more or less just furniture to a dog. We got Eowyn for this reason, and I think it is the number one thing that keeps Bullett content while we are away. They enjoy each other’s company and can play and snuggle to keep each other busy while we are working long hours to pay for their food. Make sure you are in a good place before adopting another animal, of course. They will be as much a member of your family as your current pet.
If you can afford it, Day care is a great option for dogs. It keeps them social and helps them exercise. Trained caretakers will have all eyes on your pup 24/7 and ensure they are healthy and safe while you’re away. There are many optons of daycares out there--whether it be in someone’s home, an actual doggy day care facility, or Madison even has a daycare that takes dogs out hiking all day.
Have special treats or toys that are reserved for when you’re out of the house.
When I went back to work, I knew it would be very sudden to both pets. I went over to MadCat the day before I started and picked up some Bully Sticks, a Benebone, and some catnip toys for Eowyn. We give these treats as we leave and then take them away upon coming home for the evening so that the animals have a positive association with these items related to us being gone. I made sure to choose items that cater to their senses as that is what will keep them occupied over anything else. We've frozen a peanut butter and pumpkin mixture in a kong before as well. If your pet is into it, puzzle toys are also a great option to occupy their minds for an extended period of time.
Pet-proof your home.
Before we leave, we do a sweep and make sure all shoes and objects that Bullett might chew on are put away. If he can’t access them, they won’t be destroyed. Understand your pet’s habits and anticipate potential behaviors that could occur in your absence. This includes general housekeeping to prevent accidents such as making sure anything harmful is out of reach and unable to be accessed. We had Eowyn for a year before we knew she could open cupboards. This antic resulted in Bullett and her eating their entire treat supply. Everyone was okay, but we moved the food and remaining treats into a closet, and we immediately ordered child-proof locks. You have to be one step ahead of them.
Keeping the windows open or closed.
Whether you should keep your windows open or closed really depends on your pet. At our home, we keep all shades drawn aside from views that only Eowyn has access to. Eowyn loves to watch what’s going outside, but this way Bullett can’t see something he might bark at. If your pet won’t be a disturbance by having the windows open, I think it is wise to keep most of them open so they have something to occupy them while you’re away. Cats especially love watching birds and other critters run around outside, and that can keep them busy for hours.
Create cozy “safe” places.
Lay out blankets for your pets to snuggle on, or provide pet furniture such as cat trees for your pets to feel comfortable in while you are away. Consider giving your pets treats in these places so they have a positive association with their safe place.
Crate your pet if necessary.
Some pets are simply better off in a crate. Crates can be a safe spot for your pet that provides everything they need.
Make sure there is plenty of water available.
This should be a constant practice, but if they run out of water in the middle of the day and you aren’t there, they will be pretty thirsty by the time you get home. We have two water dishes out as well as a pet drinking fountain that runs 24/7.
Give your pet adequate exercise.
Take your dog to the dog park to run around, go for a nice long walk, play with your kitty for 15-20 minutes in the morning...all these things are not only vital to your pet’s health, but will wear them out a little bit so they can be relaxed and perhaps sleepy enough to take a nap while you are gone.
When you come home for the day, your pets will always be so happy to see you. It will give you some peace of mind if they’ve been content, relaxed, and kept busy while you’ve been gone for 8 or more hours. Spend your evening and weekend with them as a family, and they will truly treasure the hours you are home and present with them.
The Girl in the Unicorn Pajamas