Back to School/Work? Don’t Forget Your Dog!
Adjusting to the new Fall routine is a busy time for everyone and your dog is likely to pick up on cues. Some dogs will start feeling anxious before school starts because they can feel that something is changing. You’ve probably noticed that dogs aren’t big on change. While the humans are shopping for new school supplies and adjusting to a new schedule, your dog can feel lonely. From their perspective, they just enjoyed lots of time with some of their favorite people and now they’re ignored and left along all day. This isn’t a great change from their perspective. Fortunately, with a little pre-planning, you can make the back-to-school transition easier on everyone.
Make the Transition to Back to School Easier on Everyone
1- Slowly Adjust the Schedules - If you have children who’ve spent the summer sleeping in, then help them ease into early mornings with a kinder, gentler approach. At least a week before the official start of school, set an alarm or wake them earlier so they can ease into the school schedule. It’s a little harsh to go from late mornings in bed to pre-dawn wake-up’s overnight. Start with 15 or 20 minutes earlier at first and gradually move them closer to the wake-up time for school mornings. This also benefits your dog because they can adapt to the change more slowly too.
2- Recognize Signs of Depression or Anxiety – Dogs are susceptible to loneliness and depression when members of their “pack” suddenly disappears for long stretches of time. (i.e., the kids go back to school.) If your dog is listless or lacking in appetite, then try to take some extra time with your dog each day and recognize it’s going to take some time for them to adjust. Other dogs may experience boredom or separation anxiety. These can manifest as extensive barking or even destroying furniture or belongs. Neither are fun. Extra walks and play time can help with all of these. You might also try leaving them with a peanut butter stuffed Kong or one of those puzzles that release treats when they solve it. If the problems persist, then it’s important to work in extra fun for them.
3 – Afternoon Visit – If possible, take your dog out for an extra walk in the afternoon or bring in a dog walker. Your dog is likely feeling bored and the extra attention (and exercise) will give him a boost (as well as a potty break.) If your dog is a good candidate for doggie daycare, you may want to consider that as an option. Doggie daycare is a great outlet for socializing and will have your dog returning home tired out and happy.
4- Leaving and Return – Dogs pick up on feelings. If you make a big deal out of leaving and coming home they will too. Ok, let’s face it, big deal out of your return no matter what (isn’t it nice to be wanted?) However, you don’t want to fuss over them so much when you leave that they think you aren’t coming back. They’re already anxious over your leaving. Instead, just give them a pat on the head, offer them a toy, and go out for the day.
Yes, back to school is a busy time, but with a little planning, you can help your dog make the adjustment easier. What about your dog? How will you help him make the adjustment?