The COVID-19 lockdowns have given many pet owners more time to interact with their pets than they had before the lockdown. Your pets may be responding to the extra attention in ways that are surprising and, in some cases, confusing. As a pet owner, behavioral changes may worry you, but rest assured there is probably a perfectly acceptable reason your pet has changed recently. Below, check out what may be causing your pet’s change in behavior and whether it is something that needs to be addressed.
Has Your Pet’s Behavior Actually Changed?
Being able to interact with your pet every day for days on end has enabled you to communicate with your pet and observe your pet’s responses more closely than usual. Perhaps your pet’s behavior is just like it was before quarantine, but you were never able to notice it. Now that you and your pet can spend more time together, you have begun to see all of the ways your furry best friend tries to communicate with you.
On the other hand, you may not notice any change in your pet’s behavior at all. Your pet may be very adaptable and react fine to additional attention. If you have kept your pet’s schedule largely intact during quarantine, your pet may not be anxious about having you around more. By continuing to feed, walk and play at about the same time each day as you did before the lockdown, your pet may not notice or care about minor changes to their schedule.
Anxiety Based on Change in Routine
If, in fact, you have observed a change in your pet’s behavior, consider whether it is due to major sudden changes in daily routine. Be aware that stress in your pet can be attributed to changes in their routines. Like humans, your pet takes comfort in an established schedule and has come to expect certain things at a set time — such as feeding, sleeping, or walking. When that doesn’t happen, our pets often get stressed.
Respect Your Pet’s Sleep Needs
Dogs need 12 to 14 hours of sleep each 24-hour period for good health. Older dogs and puppies need more, with puppies often sleeping anywhere from 15 to 20 hours per day. Cats need 12 to 16 hours of sleep each 24-hour period, and most of that is during daylight hours. Now that everyone is home, that quiet time is gone.
During quarantine, be sure you and your family are giving your pet the sleep time it needs to maintain a healthy mind and body. While you are at work and your kids are in school all day, your dog or cat takes advantage of the quiet time by sleeping for a good portion of that time. Some pets will seek out a quiet place where they can have some social distance, and they may resent human attempts to interact with them during those much-needed rest periods.
Increase in Anxiety and Stress Behaviors in Your Pet
Each animal will respond differently to a new lockdown routine. Some adjust quickly, but others may find the change stressful. Pets usually show stress by engaging in behavior that is out of the ordinary for them, or they may be doing what they always did when they are anxious, just a lot more of it.
Here are some behaviors you may notice during quarantine, and some things you can do to try to manage it:
Whining & Barking
Vocalizing is a common method of expressing anxiety. If it seems to be happening more often than it did before quarantine, try to identify a trigger. Is it happening more while outside on walks? Is the response out of the ordinary for that situation? Is it happening when your pet wants to be fed? Is it play? Rather than scold your pet for it, distract it with a chew toy or take it out for a walk. Avoid giving it food or you will simply reinforce the behavior.
Clinginess or Increased Desire to Be Near Owner
Some pets cannot get enough of their human companions. Having you around more may be so wonderful for your pet that it cannot bear to have you out of its sight. When it is time for you to go back to your pre-quarantine routine, your pet may have a serious problem with separation anxiety. One way to begin managing it now is to work with a professional pet sitter who can start getting to know your pet and be a welcome visitor when you do return to work.
Less Desire to Be Near Owner
Too much social interaction can spook a pet, especially one that is already on the timid side. If this is the case, give your pet some space. In fact, give it its own bed where it can go, and be sure that no one will disturb it when it is there. Also, as previously noted, make sure your pet has the alone time it needs for adequate sleep and rest.
Change in Eating Habits
If your pet is not eating like it normally does, stress may be to blame. As already mentioned, keeping your pet on its regular feeding schedule as well as its regular diet will help offset anxiety. Never hesitate to discuss any changes or issues with your vet, as it could be a sign of something more serious.
Contact Paw Pals for More Information
For help with your furry friends, contact the pet care experts at Paw Pals. They are available to spend quality time with your pet when you cannot and answer any questions about managing your pet during quarantines. They offer a variety of pet-care services and are made up of pet professionals with the utmost love for animals. For top-quality care, contact our expert today.