how can i help my dog weather the change when the kids go back to school?

Posted by Dr. Kim Smyth on Aug 05 2015
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It’s about time to break out the backpacks, sharpen those pencils and get back into the swing of the school season. For most families, that means an end to the laid back days of summer and the start of a daily routine. But when the kids go back to school, it’s not just an adjustment for your two-legged family members, it affects your four-legged family, too.

Signs that your pet is upset include:

- Increased howling or crying when you’re away

- Nervousness (especially when it’s time to head out the door)

- Destructive behavior when left alone

If your pet shows any of these behaviors around back-to-school time, he could be suffering from separation anxiety. Before he wreaks havoc on your furniture or worse, causes harm to himself, you can help him learn to accept the change with some homework:

Keep him busy

Give your pet something else to think about, like a treat-filled toy or food puzzle. Some pet parents will even leave the TV on for their furry friends.

Change his tune

Classical music has been proven to help both humans and canines relax in stressful situations. Put on a little Mozart or Beethoven for your pet to doze off to the soothing sounds.

Find a happy place

If your dog is crate trained, she might be most comfortable in a crate while you’re away, at least until your new routine is old news. Most crate-trained pups feel more relaxed in their crates during stressful times.

Stay calm

Try not to be overly mushy when you leave or excited when you return. Calmly say goodbye and hello to your pet so he learns that coming and going is nothing to be emotional about.

Practice leaving

Pretend like you’re leaving for the day, doing everything you normally would, and head outside for a few minutes. Increase the amount of time for each “departure” as long as your pet is comfortable – if she shows signs of stress, go back in and try again.

Spend time together

With the longer days of summer gone, make the most of the time you have with your pet. Go for a walk, play a game of fetch or laser tag or work on obedience commands. Both pets and parents can benefit from the time together.

Visit your vet

Before the anxiety gets out of hand, talk to your vet about a plan for behavior modification and/or medications. Separation anxiety can not only be destructive on your home, but also increase the risk of injury to your pet. You vet should step in before anything, or anyone, gets hurt.