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Is Your Dog Singing the Back to School Blues?

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Is your dog singing the back to school blues? Back-to-school season is a time of transition for the whole family, as parents and children begin to adjust to a new routine. It’s also a difficult time for pets, who have grown accustomed to some extra attention during summer vacation. Dogs especially are extremely social and enjoy being around people.  Here are a few tips to make the adjustment easier for your pet!

  • Don’t make a big deal out of arrivals and departures. For example, when you arrive home, ignore your dog for the first few minutes then calmly pet him.
  • Get your pet use to being home alone. This is called “alone time” but should only be done in small increments of time to start with.  It is later extended until the school day ends and the kids are back at home.
  • Leave your dog with an article of clothing that smells like you, such as an old T-shirt that you’ve slept in recently.
  • Keep your pet active.  It has been proven that kids who walk their dogs have a stronger bond with their dogs. Remember also that a fast paced walk after school improves your pet’s health and gets rid of any excess  energy.
  • Add mental stimulation. To reduce boredom while the family is out, fill a treat-dispensing ball with your dog’s breakfast kibble; she’ll have to work to retrieve her meal – and will be so busy that she won’t notice you are gone.
  • Try daycare. Avoid long lonely days at home with doggie daycare, where dogs play together in a safe, supervised environment that is helpful for dogs of all ages, sizes and breeds.
  • Spend quality time with your pet when you are at home; include him/her in family activities ensuring your dog is still an important part of the family.
  • Try training. Working on a new trick each day will engage a dog intellectually and physically. A training class will not only refresh skills, but also give dogs time to socialize with canine friends.

 

Finally, a couple of weeks in advance, start leaving your dog home for short periods, gradually increasing alone time to the length of the school day. This will help reduce your dog’s separation anxiety and make for a smoother transition into your family’s new fall schedule.

Dogs get SAD too (Seasonal Affective Disorder)

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People aren’t the only ones susceptible to wintertime blues (Seasonal Affective Disorder). “PDSA (The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals) found that approximately 40 percent of dog owners saw a considerable downturn in their pet’s moods during the winter months,” reported Psychology Today.

Today, scientists know that SAD in humans is caused by low levels of light that lead to a chemical imbalance in part of the brain that controls body functions such as sleep, appetite, mood and activity. Now experts believe the same is happening in our dogs.

Symptoms to watch for that may indicate your furry friend is feeling low:
•    Aggressive behavior or soiling inappropriately
•    Clawing at furniture
•    Demanding more attention or appearing withdrawn
•    Frequent barking
•    Lethargy – sleeping more than usual
•    Less interest in going for walks or playing
•    Reduced appetite and weight loss

How can you help your dog to feel more cheerful?

To reverse the symptoms experienced by unhappy pets, continually talk to your dog, comfort them, and play games such as hiding favorite toys to keep them active. Of course, your dog’s mood change may also be simply due to cold weather and fewer opportunities to stretch their legs outside, but diet and exercise can play a big part in perking up your dog.

Exercise is probably the best answer!  Getting outside and exercising will help both you and your dog beat the wintertime blues.  Being outside exposes you to sunlight, which helps by itself.  Exercise also helps because you are activating you and your dog’s Endocannabinoid* systems which make you feel better. Another option for your dog is to attend doggie daycare.  They will benefit from the exercise, change of scenery and simply being around other dogs.  *Endocannabinoids are natural messengers in the body that help regulate many biological functions.*

Comment below- Does your dog get SAD?