Back to school can be hard on dogs as well as the rest of the family. Your dog gets used to everyone being home to play all the time and at the end of the summer everyone goes back to school during the day and focuses on homework or school related activities at night. This drastic change in routine can be confusing and create anxiety in your pet. Consider the following to help them ease into the back to school transition.
Prior to Back to School
- Start establishing a daily schedule.
o Tailor your schedule of feeding, walking, playing etc to work all year round.
o Include pet alone time. Separating your dog from the family at certain times of the day will get them used to being alone while everyone is at school. Leaving them alone gradually for longer and longer periods of time will help them adjust to being alone for the whole school day more easily.
- Using a crate to give your dog a safe familiar place while you are away can be very calming. If you have a young dog it can also help keep them out of trouble while unsupervised.
After School Starts Up
- Now that your daily schedule is established, follow it! Encourage all members of the family to follow the routine you have set.
- Keep family member comings and goings calm and unexciting. Getting everything ready by the door the night before is a good way to keep departure excitement to a minimum.
- Have specific toys appropriate for play without supervision available for your pet to play with only while the family is out of the house. For example a Kong toy stuffed with appropriate treats and food is great for a pet to occupy themselves with while you and your children are out of the house. Make sure the food is part of their daily allotment to avoid extra calories. You may even consider hiding these toys around the house for a game of treasure hunt/foraging while you are away.
- Plan fun after school activities for the whole family to keep your bond with your dog strong and release all that energy! Encourage children to come home from school quickly to interact and play with the dog.
o Exercise, like going on a walk, before you leave for the day and after you get home can help your pet be more calm while you are away and while children are doing homework.
Hopefully following these tips will prevent your dog from suffering anxiety or back to school blues. Watch for signs of destructive behavior, excessive barking, or house soiling. These signs of separation anxiety indicate your dog may need more structure.
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