Northern Ireland animal welfare charity, the USPCA, is urging pet owners to plan ahead for when lockdown restrictions begin to ease in the region to ensure their pet is suitably prepared. Due to lockdown circumstances, such as furlough or working from home, our pets have become accustomed to our company around the clock, which is unfortunately not the ‘normal’ reality.
When the time comes, and pet owners resume their busy schedules, our much-loved pets may suffer from separation anxiety.
Brendan Mullan, USPCA Chief Executive, said, “Pets greatly enrich our lives and it is clear that they have been a real lifeline for many owners during lockdown, however it is vital that these same owners take heed of the implications lockdown has had on their companion animal.
“Now is the time to consider how you can help your pet adapt to your absence and mitigate any behaviours which may manifest from anxiety such as barking, howling, and destructive tendencies. We also strongly advise owners to reflect on how they can integrate their pet’s care, such as feeding, walking, grooming, and cleaning, into their pre-lockdown routines, and to have plans in place.”
During the past year there has been a strong demand for animals which has resulted in extortionate puppy prices and increased activity from illegal puppy farms. Many young pets welcomed to households in the past year will not be familiar with normal routines and may struggle more than older pets.
Brendan continued, “When we begin to return to normal, it’s unfortunate that in some instances of young pets, they may begin to display the behaviours such as barking or chewing due to loneliness and boredom, which the owners may not want or are not prepared to deal with.
“Very often unwanted behaviours, not having the time, inadequate research into the needs of specific animals or breeds, are all scenarios which may result in a pet being abandoned. Our colleagues in the SSPCA are already experiencing surges of unwanted animals. We are concerned that this may be the case in the months to come so it is important to plan ahead and prepare your pet for life at home alone.”
- Train your dog to handle your absence by beginning with short intervals and then working your way up to longer periods of time
- Encourage your dog to embrace ‘down time’ and to rest during the times you would normally be out at work
- Understand how you will be able to accommodate your pet’s care routine into your work and social schedule without compromising on their exercise and playtime
- Invest in enrichment toys which stimulate your pet and provide them with entertainment