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.