How to Help Your Dog Cope with the Back-To-School Blues
Your dogs are often the stars of summer activities, from running around in the backyard to trips to the lake. Once it comes time to start sharpening those pencils and filling up the lunchbox, though, your dog is in for a rude awakening as they find themselves alone for long stretches of time. Idle paws bring new mischief, especially if your dog is suffering from a mild case of separation anxiety. Here are some tips to minimize the chaos as both you and your family get used to your new routine as you head back to school this season.
Build Up to the Big Change:
If your dog is used to your little ones (and you) running around the house these last three months, the sudden change can be quite a shock. Since your dog can’t pick up on clues that the schedule will be changing, they often react to the sudden silence with little acts of destruction: housetraining accidents, chewed up shoes, scratched doors, and extra mid-day howls. This is often just your pup reacting to the sudden absence of their playmates.
To keep the change from daytime games to daytime silence from being too overwhelming for Fido, spend the two weeks leading up to the start of school getting them used to being alone. Some dogs need minimal help with this adjustment, while others need to be babied along. Use your best judgement on how slow you need to go for the change in routine to go smoothly.
You can do this by leaving them alone for small periods of time and working your way up to the length of time they will be alone during the school year. Start by leaving your pooch home alone while you go for a walk around the block and work your way up to road trips outside the city. If you come back and your dog has been destructive in some way, decrease the amount of time they are alone and start again.
When dealing with separation anxiety, it is very important not to leave your home or come back while making a big deal out of seeing your pet. If you pay extra attention to them, they think of you coming and going as a special occasion that they should pay attention to and will look forward to it. While it might feel good to see your excited doggy waiting for you, it can build up into an anxious moment for them. Try to leave and come back without paying any attention to furry family members and you’ll have an easier time of it later.
Distracting Them at Home:
Now that you have them (semi) patiently waiting at home, it’s time to give them something to keep them occupied. Just like kids, dogs are more than willing to find something to do on their own! If you don’t want this to be your new shoes, it’s time to get some interactive toys. Anything from filling a Kong with peanut butter to hiding treats in an empty Kleenex box are excellent toys, the only goal is to get their senses going and their attention engaged. Some ideas to keep the pets occupied can be:
- Pupsicles: frozen treats which can be made in a standard ice cube tray and can be made from common grocery items like chicken stock, peanut butter, pureed meat, or blended sweet potatoes.
- Turn one of your old favorite scarves into a new stuffed squeaky pillow with some craft store supplies. The scent of you will be calming and no pup ever said no to something else to cuddle (or tear apart, as your pup prefers).
- Put their favorite squeaky toy on an elastic string and tie it to the front door. When they next go over to check to see if you have come home yet, they will get distracted by the dangling toy and will forget to worry.
- Consider adding in a pheromone diffuser, which releases small quantities of simulated pheromones your dog would have smelled while a puppy.
Whenever possible, try to combine more than one sense in the treat, such as smell and taste, so that your dog is sufficiently distracted from being alone. These treats also fill the time so that they have something to chew on and engage with while you are away.
Enlist Extra Help:
Kids are typically at school for at least eight hours a day, which is close to a marathon for your furry family members. A quick walk and a check on the water bowl is all most pets will need for a mid-day check.
If you don’t have anyone available to check on your pooch during the day, consider hiring a midday dog walking service who can also provide care for the non-canine members. Dog walkers come into your home whenever you need it to provide exercise and potty breaks. This service is excellent for families heading back to school for the semester, as it breaks up the time your dog is alone and provides them with bladder relief to minimize housetraining accidents.
As many dogs are recommended to get outside every four hours, you’ll find yourself cleaning up less pee puddles and spending less time chasing around an overly energetic dog at night. Fortunately, Crate Escape Pet Care offers daily dog walks (and many other services).
Want to get started on your back to school pet schedule? Contact Crate Escape Pet Care today to see how they can help you get your furry friend in gear for the new school year with a midday dog walk, cat care visit, or any other pet need.
By Lauren Pescarus