Back-to-work prep for leaving your pet at home


The lockdown has been a dream without end for pets who have had their humans work beside them day after day. But, as we slowly return to business as usual, more and more pet owners will have to bid their good boy’s goodbye as they head back into the workplace. For pets with anxiety issues, this can lead to expensive consequences for their owners.

To help homeowners out, RE/MAX suggests the following tips so that our faithful companions do not tear the house down when we leave for work.

Lack of house training or separation anxiety?

The first thing homeowners need to discern is whether their pet is displaying signs of true separation anxiety or whether their pet just needs to be properly house trained. Pets who suffer from separation anxiety will display more distressing signals, such as trying to prevent their owner from leaving, barking incessantly when their owner is away, urinating or defecating when left alone, and frequently trying to escape to reach their owner.

Protect your pet and your home

It will take some time for a pet to adjust to a homeowner’s new schedule. In the meanwhile, homeowners should make some adjustments to their home to protect their pet and their property. To start, if a pet urinates or defecates when left alone, keep him or her away from rooms with fitted carpets, wooden floors, or loose mats, as these will be harder to clean. If a pet tries to escape often, inspect the boundary walls and fences to make sure there are no weak spots or places where the dog could hurt itself, for example, on spiked edges or protruding nails.

Recondition your pet

When a pet displays signs of separation anxiety, they need to be taught how to enjoy or at least endure being left alone. A good way to achieve this is to counter-condition your pet so that they associate being alone with things they enjoy, like a tasty treat. Every time a homeowner leaves the house, offer the pet a puzzle toy stuffed with food that will take at least 20 to 30 minutes to complete.

As a final recommendation, Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, suggests that homeowners not ignore the destructive behaviour – not only to protect their home, but also their pet.

“Responsible pet owners should prioritise the wellbeing of their pet above the state of their home – however, if a pet is destroying the property, there is often a bigger cause behind the bad behaviour and can even be an underlying health issue. I recommend that homeowners not ignore the destructive behaviour of their pets, but rather seek professional help to ensure the health and safety of their pet,” Goslett concludes.