As many of us have adapted to working from home, we’ve gained some new furry colleagues. Our pets have had to get used to our Zoom meetings, desks invading their homes and they’ve had to sacrifice their solo time. How can you tell whether your pet is fed up with you?
Have you noticed a change in your pet’s behaviour, and now find yourself worrying you’re a bad pet parent? You aren’t alone.
Just like human colleagues, our cat and dog colleagues have developed some interesting office behaviours.
And, being honest, you probably aren’t as easy-going a colleague for your pet as you think you are.
Sure, they’re a lot more adorable than most of your previous deskmates, but at least Brian from accounts never walked across your keyboard in the middle of an important call while howling for attention.
Dr Scott Miller, This Morning’s resident vet and spokesperson for Dogtastic, speaks exclusively to Express.co.uk about how our creature colleagues are coping with working from home and gave us some expert advice on some of the most common complaints.
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Dr Scott says: “Pets have helped many people survive lockdown with their unconditional love, companionship and a well-earned cuddle at the end of a hard day.
“But our pets are struggling with the change of routine to the ‘new normal’ and behavioural problems and medical conditions as a result of stress are on the rise.”
So, what do our pet’s behaviours mean?
My pet keeps interrupting my video calls and is pawing at my computer. Help!
Your human colleagues might like it when a pet makes an effort to say ‘meow’ to everyone on a video call, but for you it’s not the most professional look, as well as being really distracting.
But is your pet’s need to join in a sign that something’s wrong?
Dr Scott says it’s nothing to worry about. He explains: “It’s simply an attention-seeking move, and in fairness, is pretty effective.
“Find time to play with your cat for 15 minutes twice a day with fishing rod toys or laser pens, which alleviates predatory aggression and pent up energy, and is a fun and stress-relieving activity for both of you.”
My pet follows me everywhere. I can’t even go to the toilet in peace. Why do they do this?
Many of you, especially those who got new pets in the lockdown, might be feeling inseparable from your pets.
The bad news is that this is an unhealthy level of attachment, and your pet could be really distressed when you inevitably end up leaving them alone for the day.
With schools going back and more workplaces planning to bring staff back to the office, it’s important to make sure your pet is not over-attached.
Dr Scott says: “He is doing it because you are letting him, and you should stop it!
“It is not healthy to have a constant shadow for either them or you, with this level of attachment almost certain to lead to separation anxiety when you do leave the house.
“Enforced time alone while you are in the house is key to develop resilience to being left, building up the time separated with your pet while they are calm and relaxed will help your ability to leave the house now things have opened up.”
I have a stressful job, but when I get stressed my dog starts misbehaving. Can he tell I’m stressed out?
They don’t call dogs ‘man’s best friend’ for nothing: the highly empathetic animals can pick up on your emotions and if you’re having a challenging time at work this can upset them.
Dr Scott explains: “Dogs are highly intuitive and emotionally evolved, able to pick up on the stresses and worries of their beloved pet parents.
“They will show concern and attention, often beginning to become agitated themselves.
If you know you are going to have a stressful and challenging call, then use a baby gate to separate yourself from your pet, treats and toys to divert your pets attention from you when your patience is tested.”
Is my pet fed up with me?
Are you getting the sense that your constant presence is really beginning to irritate your pet?
Dr Scott says: “Any change of behaviour is something to take notice of, with dogs tending to covet attention when feeling unwell or stressed, cats preferring to hide away.”
Cats, who tend to be very happy on their own, are more likely than dogs to be annoyed at you for taking up their space.
It’s not that your cat doesn’t adore you, it’s just that this is their house after all, and now you’ve become one of the furniture.
Dr Scott says: “Stress leading to cystitis and over grooming has been a common finding in pandemic felines when brought to the Vet.
“Make sure your pets still have a place to go which is away from you, investing in calming sprays, plug-ins and supplements to help keep their mood happy and calm.”