You’ve scurried around gathering last-minute school supplies and whisked the kids off to start another school session. But when you return home, the family dog greets you at the door, nervously slinking about. A glance behind his wagging form tells it all the carpet is decorated with feces and the broken remains from this morning’s breakfast dishes are scattered on the floor, licked clean of every crumb. Welcome to the new school year and the doggie back-to-school blues.
The return of the school year is always a hectic time for families. With sudden changes in schedules and the absence of family members, your doggie ends up in a tailspin. After a summer of frolicking with the children and lavishing in extra snuggle time, your pet may just look around and wonder, “Where did everyone go?” This change in routines can leave a pet frustrated and anxious, triggering behavioral problems such as separation anxiety, chewing, digging, house soiling, and excess barking.
Keep those doggie blues away with the following school-time tips. Cats and other household pets may struggle with changing schedules as well and may need reassurance during transition times.
Reserve individual pet time.
Remember to schedule one-on-one time with your pet by grooming, cuddling, or playing with your pet. Even a few minutes of petting your dog soothes the pet and imparts positive health benefits for people too. Schedule 5 to 10 minutes several times a day
Schedule physical activity.
Daily exercise prevents boredom and the tendency for destructive behaviors. All that summer fun of running, playing, and swimming may be gone, but your dog still needs an energy outlet. Schedule a daily walk, visit to a dog park or play fetch with your canine.
Make him work for his food.
Don’t just leave food out for the taking; use interactive toys that make a dog work for his food, provide mental stimulation, and decrease boredom. Kibble or treats are placed inside these interactive toys and drop pieces as the pet nibbles, chews, or shakes it. Check out products by Busy Buddy or Kong.
Avoid banishing to the backyard.
It may seem that leaving the dog outside may be more fun than being confined indoors, but many dogs will bark or dig to excess when left unattended in the yard. Also, be wary of heat stroke and avoid leaving dogs outside when temperatures are over 85 degrees.
Seek help if problems arise.
Problem behaviors don’t just go away on their own… It usually gets worse. Call your veterinarian to discuss behavior modification steps, to seek a behaviorist/trainer referral, or to inquire about behavioral medications.
Don’t forget the furry members of the family during this busy time of the year. With a little extra TLC, your family pet will adapt to changing household routines.