It has and continues to be a long hot summer. Believe it or not, back to school is just around the corner, and now is the time to start thinking about how this is going to impact on your pet. While the last two months have been a fun time for children and pets, heading back to school can be a big adjustment for everyone.
Some of you may have adopted a dog during the summer and have had the opportunity to be home with your new four legged friend on a daily basis and he or she has had lots of time playing with you and the children. But now that school is back in session, there will be lots of adjusting to do when your pet finds himself alone for the day. If your pet is used to having constant companionship, he may show signs of depression or anxiety trying to get used to the new schedule. This may show up in your pet by barking or even howling, pacing up and down the hallway, chewing on anything and everything, and even disregarding his housebreaking.
So let’s try to make the back to school situation as stress free as possible. For starters we should begin a regular routine before school starts by exercising your dog as vigorously as you can first thing in the morning. If your children will be taking a school bus, walk with them and the dog to the designated area, or if you will be driving the kids, take them all for the ride to the school. Try doing this morning and afternoon daily so your dog gets into the habit of when the kids come and go.
If your pet will be left alone a good part of the day, leave him with a safe chew toy. One good toy is a Kong which you can fill with peanut butter and freeze. This will keep your pup occupied while you skip out the door and, after he’s had a good chew, he will probably have a good nap. You may also want to start taking part of his daily kibble and hiding it in various places which will be a game for him and keep his mind occupied.
Try leaving a radio or the television on during the day. Sometimes just the sound of a voice will help to comfort your pet thinking that he is not alone. If your dog is crated during the day, chances are he will sleep most of the time. You may find that by putting a toy or a piece of clothing with your scent on it in the crate will help your dog to be more at ease and calmer.
For those of us who will be gone for up to six hours or more during the day, you may want to consider hiring a dog walker to come in and take your dog out in the middle of the day. This will not only give your dog a break and something to look forward to, but will give you a little more flexibility when you return home.
If you have been spending a lot of time with your dog during the last two months, now is the time to start leaving the house a few times during the day and leave your pup behind. After this happens a few times he will begin to realize that you will be coming back and will be less stressed at being left alone.
You can also encourage independence in your dog and practice obedience training at the same time by putting your dog in a down stay on one side of a room while you sit on the other side of the room. Keep your dog down a little longer each day and try to work up to at least twenty minutes. Your dog will gain
a lot of confidence making him less stressed.
Always be sure to praise him for a job well done.
Another thing we should do is try not to make a big deal out of leaving the house, and when we return don’t encourage a lot of fussing with your pet. He will always be happy to see you but let him calm down first. He will soon come to understand that it’s normal for all members of the family to come and go, but that you will always return.
So let’s start getting into a routine now and be ready for another back to school year.