Today’s guest writer is Robbi Hess, Story Editor at Positively Woof. Robbi is writing about how to help your dog deal with the back to school blues and separation anxiety.
It’s back to school time
Have you given thought to how this change in the family dynamic and routine may impact your dog? She’s been enjoying her summer surrounded by the family. She hasn’t been home alone. Because many school summer vacations last a couple of months, your dog has gotten into a routine that involves time with the family.
Suddenly, the children are back in school and your dog is facing a quiet, empty house. This abrupt change in routine could lead to anxiety and even depression in your dog.
Excitement and the potential for canine anxiety
Your children will be excited for the start of school. They have their new clothes and backpacks and are looking forward to meeting their new teachers and seeing friends they may not have seen during summer vacation.
Your dog will pick up on this excitement and change in the family atmosphere, but he won’t know what’s going on. When he watches part of his pack get onto a school bus and sees you going off to work, he will be home alone. It’s up to the pet parent to enrich his canine environment to make the back to school transition easier for him.
How To Deal With Pet Separation Anxiety When Kids Are Back In School
Pet parents understand their dogs suffer separation anxiety
Dogs left home alone, and who have separation anxiety, can manifest itself in behavior issues including:
- Chewing your shoes or furniture
- Barking barking all day while you’re gone
- Not eating
- Not letting you out of his sight when you are home
- Having “accidents” in the house when he is fully house-trained
What can you do to alleviate her separation anxiety and make her more comfortable home alone until she’s accustomed to the new routine?
Here are a few tips:
- Make your exit from the home a minor event. Grab the items you need, pat him on the head and walk out. If you hug and kiss and make a big deal about your leaving, and if the kids do this before they get on the bus, your dog will pick up on that and he will become anxious.
- Have all items you need to leave in the morning ready and by the door, the same goes for the kids’ school items. If leaving is calm, your dog will be calmer. If you’re frantically racing around the house trying to find items you need for yourself or the kids, this will make your dog anxious.
- Consider hiring a dog walker or taking your dog to a doggie day care. Some dogs thrive in the excitement of a doggie day care while others prefer to be in their own home — you need to know your dog and how he’d do best.
- Take her for a long walk before you leave for the day. Let her run, jump, play fetch, and get out her excess energy. A tired dog is a happy dog!
- Turn on DOGTV. This scientifically-developed programming will help alleviate your dog’s separation anxiety, enrich his environment and help him cope better while you’re away. Even if your dog doesn’t lie on the couch and stare, rapt, at the television or tablet screen, he is still benefiting from the soothing sounds from the programming. Sign up for a FREE 14-day trial of DOGTV.
- Give him a toy he only gets when he’s home alone. Make it a special toy that he loves above all other toys. Consider getting a food puzzle toy. This will give him treats and keep him mentally engaged.
- Have the kids give her a high-value treat before they leave for school. If you stuff a Kong or other toy with a delicious treat and have the kids give her the toy, she will associate their leaving with a high-value treat and that may make the separation anxiety better.
Remember, back to school is a big change for everyone in the household. Give everyone time to get into the new routine. If your dog is suffering separation anxiety that doesn’t seem to lessen over time, you may want to give your veterinarian a call and discuss the situation with him or her and see if there are other things you can try to make your dog more comfortable.