Back to School Anxiety

back to school anxietyWhen we think about back to school anxiety, we usually just have the human family members in mind.  Not so fast, friends.  What about the family dog? Dogs experience back to school anxiety, too.  Think about it – after romping around all summer with their favorite humans, they are suddenly left alone.  The sudden change in routine has the potential to make any dog anxious. So, what do you do

Plan ahead!

Before your dog ever even has the chance to show signs of anxiety, put a plan in place.  A gradual change in schedule is better for your dog.  What might that look like? A few weeks before school starts, start your dog on his new routine.  Set the alarms earlier and begin your dog’s day as if everyone is back to school already.  Your dog’s morning feeding schedule and exercise routine is generally how the day starts so, think about a school day morning and mock your mornings after that. I’d even go so far as to say exit the house at the same time you will when school starts.  This can be a great time to go back to school shopping or plan some last few morning outings with the kids.  Leaving for a few hours at a time will get your dog used to spending some time alone again.

Recognize the signs of anxiety in your dog

There are many different ways that dogs show signs of back to school anxiety.  Barking, chewing on household items, self-mutilation, pacing, and having accidents in the house are a few signs.  Essentially, any new behaviors that suddenly or slowly develop could very well be related to a change in routine.  Once you recognize the signs, you can take some action. 

Set your dog’s day up for success. 

Take him for a rigorous morning walk.  Tiring the pup out before you leave home, will help leave him in a calm mood. 

Also, leave toys and treats hidden around the house. The kong is great to leave behind with a treat inside of it.   There are also many fun puzzles or toys that will pique your dog’s interest and keep his brain stimulated while everyone is gone for the day.

Try leaving the television or radio on while you’re gone, too.  The goal is to make it feel like someone is home!  Sitting in silence all day will only do your dog good if that’s what it’s usually like when you are home.

Hire a pet sitter.  Having someone come in once a day can do wonders for your dog.  He’ll have something to look forward to and he’ll get some more exercise, which will, once again, leave him in a calm, relaxed sate. 

If you’ve done everything you can to set your dog’s day up for success and back to school anxiety still seems to permeate your household, try reaching out to your vet.  It’s possible that your dog may need some medicine or other intervention from the vet.  It’s also possible that something else, health wise, is going on with your dog.  How do you curb your dog’s back to school blues? We’d love to hear about it.

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