This site uses cookies to shape your online experience. Read more

Helping your pets adjust to a new normal


Tips to help your pets transition to more time alone as restrictions continue to ease.

Business Combating COVID-19 with coffee and kindness How Wildflower Espresso helped change the Covid culture one coffee at a time.
Money Adjusting your income during COVID-19 If you find yourself living on a reduced income as a result of COVID-19, here ar...
Lifestyle 8 sustainable habits to adopt Easy ways to be more sustainable at home.

Many people saw COVID-19 as an ideal time to welcome a new furry friend into their family with extra time to spare and the added benefit of companionship during a period of social isolation.

As restrictions continue to ease though, many pets might find themselves spending more time alone as families return to work and school. We asked Hunter volunteer organisation, Dog Rescue Newcastle, what to consider before getting a pet and how to help them adjust to a change in daily routine.

Q: How can I help my dog adjust to more time alone?

A: If your daily routine has changed during the pandemic, then your dog’s daily routine has also changed. If you’ve been spending more time at home, your dog is getting used to having you around more and probably getting more attention and walks. You may be having fewer visitors to your house and not taking your dog out to meet people at cafes and other public places.

If you’re still working from home, start planning now to lessen the impact for your dog by giving it time home alone each day while you leave the house. When you’re at home, encourage them to spend some time outside or in another part of the house away from you. Creating a safe space in another room or outside that they can retreat to can also help them feel secure when you’re not around.

It might be necessary to start with very short separations before gradually lengthening the time apart. Help make those separations a more positive experience for your dog by giving them a food dispensing toy or a long-lasting chew when you leave.

Try and stick to a routine as much as possible with walks, feeding and sleeping at the same time each day, and exercise or play with your dog before you leave to burn off some excess energy and help them settle.

Q: How do I know if my dog is anxious?

A: After spending more time together at home during COVID-19, your dog might suffer from anxiety when you go back to your old routine, which they can show in many different ways including:

  • Clinging to you, obsessively licking you or themselves
  •  Hypervigilance – looking, listening and sniffing for potential threats and being unable to relax
  • Hyper arousal – hyperactivity, destruction, panting, pacing, unable to focus, not taking food or treats, excessive friendliness, mouthing your clothing or body
  • Various facial expressions such as furrowed brow, ears alert, ears flattened, squinting or blinking, turning their head away, stiff and still body, hard stare, growling, snapping or biting
  • Change in eating, disturbed sleep, inability to settle, barking, whining and attempts to escape.

It’s important to educate yourself about dog body language as listed above so you can notice the early warning signs that your dog is uncomfortable. Chat to your local vet if you are worried about a change in your dog or pet’s behaviour.

Q: What should I consider before getting a pet?

A: While the benefits of owning a pet have been scientifically proven to have a positive impact on both physical and mental health, bringing an animal into your life is a big commitment and people need to really sit down and think about what kind will suit their lifestyle.

It’s crucial to consider simple things like energy levels, size, temperament and any other special needs, even lifespan. You can research breeds to find some that ‘may’ suit your lifestyle, but you need to treat each animal you meet as an individual as they all have different personalities.

If you do rescue your furry friend, that comes with the added benefit of knowing you have saved their life and they have a way of letting you know every day how grateful they are. We speak with adopters all the time and more often than not it’s a case of who rescued who.

This article is intended to provide general information of an educational nature only. Information in this article is current as at the date of publication. Any links to third party websites are for your information only.

Home loans and mortgages

We'll help you find the right home loan for your needs.

Learn more

Send this article to friends and family

Money Getting the most out of your banking app We take a look at how you can use banking apps to help with things like budgetin...
Lifestyle Self-care during COVID-19 and beyond Here are 9 easy self-care tips to help support your health and wellbeing during ...