Weird looks. Passive aggressive behavior. Tense atmosphere. No, we're not talking about your marriage during quarantine—we're talking about your pets. Whether you have a cat or a dog, if you've been working or parenting kids at home, you're probably experiencing some out-of-the-ordinary tendencies with your pets. We spoke to Dr. Daniel Edge, expert vet for Zoetis Petcare, about our lingering worry, “Does my dog resent me now that I'm home all the time?” Here's what we found out.
Why would your pet “resent” you—can dogs or cats even feel resentment?
Per Dr. Edge, resentment is a human emotion. But—big but!—pets can be aggravated by changes to routine. “Imagine being a dog at home, and all of a sudden, your whole routine changes because your people are suddenly home nonstop,” Dr. Edge elaborates. So, as our human behavior and routines changes, our pets are effected. “If your cat is accustomed to pet parents being gone from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., all their naps are being disrupted, with new stimuli to boot,” explains Dr. Edge. This can lead to anxiety. Anxiety can lead to attention-seeking behavior, and the more needy you perceive your pet to be, the more you give into them, feeding the cycle.
What are signs that your pet is struggling to adapt to new routines?
Take Dr. Edge's own experience, for instance. His family has two cats. In normal times, he puts one on an automatic feeder so it doesn't hoard food from their other cat. But now that Dr. Edge and family are home all the time, their food-loving cat essentially camps out near the food container, meowing whenever a human comes by. In doing so, their wily cat is positively reinforcing humans to feed him as much as he wants to stop meowing—which means Dr. Edge needs to train his family to stop reiforncing that behavior. Some animals' anxiety may manifest in smart food moves (like Dr. Edge's cat), or it may manifest with more anxious or destructive behaviors, like clawing on doors or urinating in the house.
What do these signs mean?
Any odd, repetitive behavior likely means your pets are confused. They were used to one thing, and now we've gone and shaken it up!
How do you work through it?
Our pets love routine, Dr. Edge tells us. So, give them a routine for the world we live in now—if we're gonna be home, let's make sure we walk Fido at the same time every day. Meals are the same time every day. Play time happens at 3 p.m., etc. Make a routine that works for you, your family and your pets. And, since things are bound to change again, be prepared to update your routine. It takes times and effort to normalize the now, but it will be worth it for you and your pet's sanity.
Need more tips of taking care of your pets? Check out this A-Z Petcare Guide.