It’s almost September. If you are a parent, you are counting down the days until the kids are back in school, or maybe they have already returned. If you are a student, you are either excited, nervous, or dragging your feet. Everybody knows and expects these emotions from two-legged family members. What people often forget is that back to school also affects the four-legged family members.
Your dog gets used to having the kids or an adult watching them around all day long in the summer. September can mean depression or even separation anxiety to the dog, who suddenly finds himself alone again. If you brought your dog home during the summer, this can be especially difficult, because she has never been left alone day after day. Below are some useful tips to help your dog beat the school day blues.
1. Get up early. Take the dog for a walk or for some playtime in the backyard before everyone leaves. This will not only make your dog feel less ignored in the hustle and bustle of the morning, but getting out that energy means he will be less likely to use it to do something naughty – like chew your shoes.
2. Include your dog. If you can, find ways to include your dog in your new daily routine. Maybe they can help take the kids or school or can be part of a special wind-down time before homework. While spending time with the dog may not be a “chore” consider adding it to your child’s chore chart or “to do” list in the morning or after school to make sure quality time doesn’t get forgotten in the hustle and bustle.
3. Make your leaving a good thing. Buy some new toys for your dog and give them to her just before you leave. That way, they associate you leaving with getting something good. You can also leave them with a treat stuffed toy, an old toy they haven’t seen in awhile (if you don’t rotate your toys out, you should! Just like young kids, if your dog hasn’t seen a two in a couple weeks/month, it’s new to them), or something that smells like you, such as a blanket.
4. Take a lunch break. If someone in your house can go home during lunch to let the dog out for a quick walk, it really helps relieve the stress of no one being at home for 8 hours. If not, consider having a friend walk them or paying a dog walker. Taking your dog to a doggy day care a couple times a week is a great option too.
5. Make returning “no big deal.” This is particularly important for dogs that have anxiety. If, every time you come back, you act as if you haven’t seen your dog for a year, your dog will feel as if he hasn’t seen you for a year. Best thing to do is act calm, quiet, casual, and don’t immediately greet your dog. If you act like it’s no big deal, then it won’t be a big deal.
6. Quality time. After you greeted your dog calmly, don’t forget he needs to be played with. Another long walk, run, or playtime in the yard, gets out all that pent up energy from the day and lets your dog know you still love him even if you have to be gone. Add some fun into your dog walking routine>>
Following these simple, easy to do tips might make the difference between a happy dog and a destroyed house. If your dog really acts up when you are gone, consult your veterinarian or dog trainer on how to tone down severe separation anxiety.