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New life: how to accustom the pet to your absence at home?

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After months at home because of the pandemic, many people have already started to return to work or to dedicate themselves to the activities they used to. Not that the coronavirus has run out, on the contrary, you still need to be very careful when leaving home. But, in a way, people are learning to live with the “new normal”. And how will the pet react to that? There are those who say that our presence at home has only been good for pets. For others, the “excess” of attention may have made the furry ones more dependent. How is the furry routine after months with the tutors 24 hours a day? We talked about the topic with the ethologist and dog and cat behavior specialist Denise Falck. Take a look at what she told us! Botica Pets – What has changed in the routine of pets with the presence of tutors at home? What brought the most pandemic to our lives was confinement. And this routine most animals were not used to. Those who already worked at home, became even more so. And that causes a huge change in the pets’ routine as well. Not all animals exhibit the same behavior at a given stimulus. Every living being has its own repertoire of behaviors and this varies depending on genetics, environmental factors, the influence of food and many other variables. As an example, a dog who slept all afternoon alone, who likes to have his moment of rest, had his corner to do that. He slept and woke up rested, calm and waited for the family to arrive. That has changed. Sometimes, that little corner of him turned into someone’s work or study corner. The whole dynamic has changed and for him it also makes a difference. And it impacts his well-being, since he doesn’t have an understanding of what’s going on. In addition, pets are also confined, they will not stroll, travel, spend the day in daycare, socialize. It doesn’t make sense to them. So, some animals will respond in a not so positive way. Cats, for example, like to be alone, to have control of space, to rest. Even with all the environmental enrichment, the coming and going inside the house shakes their routine a lot. What I mean is that the reactions vary from individual to individual, because for one the company can be good, even with the excitement. In this sense, many may not have felt the effects negatively. For another, it can be more stressful. So it is important to observe the animal at home and identify signs when the situation is not right for them. Botica Pets – How to know if pets will be well at home after quarantine? It is very difficult to predict whether the pet will be well at home alone. If the animal is well at home with the family, with all the attention, it can develop a greater dependence and attachment. Our “sudden” departure after quarantine can have an impact, as it is not gradual. I believe that they will give signals for the tutor to understand what they are feeling: anxious dogs, who walk behind, who watch, who do not rest properly, seek attention all the time. These are some of the warning signs that the pet may suffer when the guardian is not near. Others can live normally inside the home with our presence or not. So it is important to note and start working on the behavior of these pets so that the effects are not very impacting on their quality of life. Because they don’t have an understanding of what’s going on. Botica Pets – What are the signs that the pet can demonstrate that it is suffering from the absence of the guardian? The most evident signs in my experience are anxious and apathetic behaviors. Some dogs and cats show great anxiety when the tutor comes home, with an intensity beyond the normal, as if he had “run a marathon” inside the house, such is the agitation. Another behavior that draws attention is the animal that does not move when it is alone at home. He doesn’t drink water, he doesn’t eat, he doesn’t pee, he doesn’t explore the environment. It is essential to note these behaviors. To avoid the problem it is important to make the transition at a time when the routine will change again, so that the pet gets used to the progressive departure of the family. When this is not possible, it is good to observe the behavior of the animals well. What is their routine? How often do they pee, if they lick their feet, if they lick their snouts, if they swallow air, if they walk in circles, run after their tails, whether they rest or not during the day, vocalize or bark from outside stimuli. These behaviors need to be observed so that tutors know which are the most common in the pet. Because if this changes due to anxiety, stress or illness, the tutor will be able to notice more easily. Botica Pets – What can the tutor already start to do so that the pet gets used to being alone again? My advice is to start training pets now to be alone. This training can be separated into two stages: training at home and outside. At home we have many opportunities to work on this physical and visual distance. As an example, when in the bathroom, the guardian should close the door and the pet will get used to the idea that he cannot control everything that the family does in the house. Another example is when changing clothes in the bedroom, having a snack in the kitchen, as you notice that the pet accepts not to make eye contact. So, you don’t have to stop your routine to do the workout. These short breaks during the day serve to train the pet. Some pets may cry, bark and scrape the door. In such cases, I advise you to have more patience. Instead of closing the door and going 15 minutes without seeing the pet, it is worth closing the door and counting 1 minute. The idea is that they have their addiction at home, have a life of their own and find other activities at home that are fun. It is worth investing in environmental enrichment so that they feel at home and are relaxed when they are alone. In step two, the training is away from home. At this point, the tutor must use the home door to do the training. Again, take advantage of your routine breaks for this. Go have a coffee, read a message or something. To do this, leave the house and come back for a while. Come back as if nothing had happened, naturally, as if you were at home. If you don’t care about that, pets won’t care either. Another tip is not to be calling all the time to know where the pet is. Leave the animal more calm, in his corner. Affective exchange is important, but they need to have a life of their own, explore the environment, smell the environment, play alone. Promote your pet’s independence, as they will discover other things that go beyond the physical presence of the family. Botica Pets – Can you suggest some environmental enrichment techniques for the tutor to put into practice? For agitated dogs, it is worth offering an activity that will help you calm down. On the other hand, the pet that sleeps too much or is bored should receive help to move and be motivated. It is also important to note the type of play that the pet likes. Some examples are food dispensing toys, using part of the daily meal. This stimulates your natural instinct, to hunt, to move to eat. It is necessary to teach him how to play, showing how it works so that they understand. And the stimulus to drop the delicious food will encourage the pet. You can also use other foods, fruits and vegetables, with the guidance of the veterinarian. An example is celery and carrots, which have good textures and are not hypercaloric. Other toys like kong, which do not require a lot of movement. Ideal for elderly pets or those with limited movement. They will try to remove the food with the tongue and this will entertain the animal without the need for great movement. This can motivate you for a long time and over time, the tutor can increase the difficulty with harder foods, freezing the content. Now, if he gives up halfway, it is worth reducing the difficulty, because the idea is that he has fun. Bones of synthetic material are interesting. They are not toxic, they do not break, they do not harm the pet. Gnawing behavior is important to reduce animal stress. It is also worth investing in training with the pet, which creates an important bond with the tutor. Hiding “rewards” around the house is also interesting for him to explore the environment and be happier where he lives. For cats, it is also worth investing in food dispensers. However, the cat is more selective about eating and the challenge is to find a snack that they are interested in. They also like the little pen that keeps dangling, grasses that can eat, climbing furniture and shelves, shoe boxes, toys with rolls of toilet paper, laser, etc. The important thing is that the kitten gets the “prize”, the hunt, because otherwise they get frustrated. They like to get into the furniture drawers and cupboards. The important thing is to always respect and privilege what pet likes to do. Listen to the full interview on our Telegram. Access our Channel!

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