Pets can now behave differently because we are more at home than ever. To map this out and to “give something back to all animal lovers”, Friends of Veterinary Medicine at Utrecht University launch the online platform PetTails. Stories, videos of your dog and selfies with your rabbit can be shared and advice can be sought, and why is a cat purring?
He is happier now that all children are home all day, a father nods to Bowie, his brown four-legged friend. Also Toep, a somewhat chubby haze wind wags his tail more, tells her owner who now works from home and spends her breaks with Toep. Also to spare her cat by the way. « She seems to like it a bit less, I think she looks cranky out of her eyes. » Kai is behaving exactly like before the crisis, her wife explains, while she throws a sloshed tennis ball towards Hengelo. « But my husband and I both work in healthcare, we are more away from home now. » Rondje Volkspark in Enschede shows that many dogs are literally and figuratively more outgoing.
Can be correct, according to Saskia Arndt, professor of Animal Behavior at Utrecht University. Dogs are companion animals, while cats tend to be more on their own, so may be more likely to feel disturbed now that you are more at home. « But one animal is not the other, » she emphasizes immediately and several times. « There are animals that appreciate that there is more life in the house during the day, because that often means more attention, but there are also animals that find it difficult and have to get used to it. »
Ai pussy … / GettyImages
Chances are that now more than ever, especially if you are alone, you want to seek support from your pet. « But it is not a toy. If your guinea pig does not feel like cuddling again, you will really feel the resistance. Then let him go. ” A depressed-looking dog on the couch certainly can, she agrees. « They pick up our emotions and if you feel down, your dog will probably notice. » And lie down next to you, with his head hanging on your lap, as if to say: I feel your boss … « That’s how they react from their relationship with us. »
Walk / don’t walk often
Or the harm can take your dog to walk very often one day, just to get out? Not in itself, Arndt considers and weighs up for a moment, “But here too it applies: see if your dog likes it. Routine and predictability are important for their well-being and when we return to normal and the dog is back home alone a lot, he will have to get used to it again. ”
In any case, never take it out on your animal, the professor says firmly. « I can imagine that in times of ‘home office’ and ‘home schooling’ people become irritable and sometimes experience our pet as troublesome. The cat that comes on your keyboard or the dog that asks for more attention … Try to remember that a changed situation is now not only a challenge for us, but also for our animals. ” Her tip: play with the animal or walk the dog. « Then there is a good chance that the animal wants to rest. If you don’t have time for this, ask someone else or try to work in a closed room yourself. Never lock up your animal! ”
She herself keeps a close eye on her two cats. « Emil walks through the video of my video conferences all day looking for attention, while Hercule wants to be left alone. » She recommends observing pets well now. In addition to a nice change from Netflix, it can be valuable, says the professor slash animal lover who wants to bring people closer to the animal. « The key lies in the observation of animal behavior and there is now much more time, at least a positive aspect in this difficult situation. »
Inga Wolframm with her Hera, her horse that is a training horse at the faculty. « My sweetheart is always close to me! »
When she recently heard about a company that makes free online community platforms available for charities during the corona crisis, she immediately knew: this is what we are going to do! “In these turbulent times we want to give something back to animal lovers,” explains Inga Wolframm, also a great animal lover and manager of Friends of Veterinary Medicine, the charity fund of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Utrecht. « With PetTails, we want to create a digital meeting place to help people interact, exchange views and ask questions, all about their best friends, the animals. »
Veterinary students who normally walk around the clinic moderate the platform and now listen to questions online and the expert panel, which includes a professor of Animal Behavior, a horse vet and a behavioral biologist, provides advice and answers during daily question time.
But you can also post selfies of you and your rabbit, listen to animal podcasts, and find out why a cat purrs. « A nice by-catch » for the experts of the faculty is the information they can get from all the information from, among others, the survey by professor Saskia Arndt on behavioral changes in pets. « The whole world is turned upside down now, everything will be different again. It is good to gain insight into how animals deal with this situation and what we can learn from it, ”concludes Arndt, to which Wolframm joins. “In this way we help animal owners and animals, now and in the future. That’s what we do it for. ”
Professor of Animal Behavior Saskia Arndt can watch her cats for hours