After playing with the kids all summer, some dogs have a hard time coping with the changes in their daily routine after the school year starts. Dogs become used to attention from their families, so once the kids are away all day, many of them experience separation anxiety. They may exhibit destructive behavior, have accidents in the house, bark or whine excessively, refuse to eat, or mope around with a case of the blues.
Here are some ideas to help your pet cope when the kids go back to school:
— Set regular feeding, walking and playtimes to establish a new routine, and stick to it.
— Take your dog for a vigorous walk in the morning to increase the chances that he will rest during the day.
— If possible, go home for lunch to give your dog a short exercise and potty break. This will help to break up the time your dog spends alone.
— Put an old T-shirt with your child’s scent on it in your dog’s resting place to provide comfort.
— Prevent boredom by hiding pet treats and toys around the house to encourage your dog to look for them during the day. A peanut-butter-filled Kong may help keep your pet occupied.
— Keep your emotions to a minimum when leaving and returning home.
— Try playing some calming music or the television at a low volume. Some dogs are more comfortable with a pleasant background sound when they are alone.
— Talk to your children about the importance of spending quality time with your dog.
— Hire a pet-sitter or consider dog daycare during the week so your pet won’t be alone during the day.
— If your pet absolutely can’t handle being left alone and seems overly anxious, talk to your veterinarian about other possible solutions.
Be patient, and don’t punish your dog if he doesn’t react the way you expect him to. It will likely take some time for your pet to adjust to his new routine and become more comfortable during your family’s absence.