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Separation Anxiety Prompts New Concerns For Pet Parents Planning Summer Travel

PSI advises pet parents to contact their professional pet sitter come up with a plan to prepare pets for their absence.

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(PRESS RELEASE) KING, NC — While travel may not be back to pre-pandemic levels, more people are booking summer vacations and making long-awaited trips to visit family now that CDC travel guidelines have been adjusted for the fully vaccinated. For many pet owners, this new ability to travel safely raises an important question: How will my pets respond to my absence after being with me virtually 24/7 for the past year?

Pet Sitters International (PSI), the world’s leading educational association for professional pet sitters and dog walkers, advises pet parents to contact their professional pet sitter as soon as possible to check availability and come up with a plan to prepare pets for their absence.

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More and more professional pet sitters and dog walkers are fielding calls from pet parents concerned about pet separation anxiety, PSI reports.

“We are hearing this a lot from our clients,” shared Kristina Robertson, PSI member and owner of Barkley Square Professional Pet Care Services in Alexandria, Virginia. “The clients are noticing their pets’ separation anxiety when they leave to go to the grocery store or dinner.”

Fortunately, professional pet-sitting services are available to ensure that pets get the playtime and enrichment they need to alleviate stress and prevent destructive behaviors while their owners are away.

“Early in the pandemic when stay-at-home orders were implemented, we realized pet professionals would likely encounter pets with separation anxiety when regular activities were able to resume,” said PSI President Beth Stultz-Hairston. “Over the past year, PSI has offered members trainings and online resources to prepare them to recognize and work with clients to address post-COVID stress in pets.”

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PSI recommends pet owners schedule an initial consultation with a potential pet sitter prior to booking their services. This is an opportunity for the pet owner to ask questions to properly vet the sitter, and it allows the pet sitter to assess the pet-care needs to ensure they are the best fit.

During this initial consultation (often called a “meet and greet”), the pet sitter is also able to meet the pets in the home, become familiar with their routines and make recommendations for how to best prepare pets for the owner’s upcoming absence.

Robertson says she recommends that clients with pets experiencing separation anxiety use her pet-sitting services for walks prior to their trip to help pets become more comfortable.

“The client will leave to go to the store, we come in for a visit and then they return. I recommend they start with little excursions—30 minutes, for example—and then gradually increase the time they are away,” she explained.

As travel increases so does the need for pet-sitting services, so PSI advises pet owners not to wait until last-minute to seek out a professional pet sitter.

“Reach out to a local professional pet sitter during the early stages of your travel planning to ensure you can find an available pet-care professional and allow enough time to acclimate your pet to your upcoming absence,” Stultz-Hairston said.

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“Depending on the severity of the separation anxiety and the pet’s specific needs, a veterinary visit may also be needed,” she added.

PSI offers a free pet-sitter interview checklist at www.petsit.com/locate. In addition to inquiring about business credentials and training, pet parents should also ask about a company’s COVID-19 safety protocols.

To learn more about PSI or to locate a local professional pet sitter or dog walker, visit www.petsit.com.

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