August 19, 2015

Avoiding The Back-To-School Blues

Author: Kristin Skelton


Tips To Help Your Pets Adjust To A Quiet Back-To-School Home

We are officially moving into August, which means spending the days enjoying summer vacations, travel and relaxing pool-side will soon be filled with school days and full work weeks.
Whether you have little ones catching the big yellow bus or kids going back to college, when the fall schedule commences, it can affect both dogs and cats. Dogs and cats can become depressed or suffer from separation anxiety as they don’t understand why their summer buddy is now away during the day or for months on end. This is also a huge adjustment for new puppies that know nothing other than their first summer of being doted on by their new families.
Signs to look for that indicate your cat or pup may be having a problem include:
  • increased whining or barking during the day in dogs
  • increased meowing/vocalization in cats
  • loss of appetite for dogs and cats
  • elminations outside the litter box or on a family member’s bed or belongings for cats
  • excessive self-grooming for cats
  • weird or new and disruptive behaviors such as getting into the trash or chewing on furniture
Both dogs and cats may need some help transitioning to their new schedule/additional time alone. Make sure to give them as much attention as possible. When the school days begin, set regular walks and/or play time for your dog or cat. If you have more of a lay-around-the-house dog or cat,  lay-around-with-them while working or doing homework. Quiet time together is still quality time.
Here are a few additional ideas to help your pets adjust to your new daily routine:
A Few Ideas For Cats
  • Create A Look Out. Cats naturally love to watch birds and keep watch over their yard. I have seen cats spend endless hours acting as the overlords of their window. Create a comfy spot or add a cozy cat tree by an entertaining window. Add some bird feeders to your yard in that spot to keep things interesting.
  • Interactive Toys. Cats LOVE interactive toys. Unfortunately when back to school hits it is hard to be available at the other end of a feather toy wand. Look for solo cat toys such as track toys or puzzle games.
  • Find Your Cat A Friend. If your cat is a good candidate for a multi-cat household, consider adding a cat to your home. With proper introduction, having another cat can provide hours of fun and companionship.
A Few Ideas For Dogs
  • Foraging Toys. Give your dog a treat dispensing toy to keep them engaged and occupied while you are away.
  • The Mid-Day Walk. In lieu of giving your dog all day to get creative and find ways to entertain themselves (i.e. chewing a hole in the wall), add a mid-day walk to your dog’s routine. Along with the benefit of a potty break, exercise and companionship during a long day can curb many destructive behaviors and allow you to return home to a calm pooch.
  • Take Your Dog Back To School. While planning for your children’s classes, consider teaching your dog something new. Look into local group obedience classes or add something fun, like flyball or agility training, which can also be quality time for the whole family.
If any problem behaviors seem extreme or are not curbing quickly as you wind down into your new schedule, reach out to your veterinarian or a qualified behavioral consultant for help.

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