August 25, 2014

Preparing Your Dog For Back To School

Author: Kristin Skelton


Back To School Means Changes For Fido

Can you believe it is back to school time already? As summer hours end, and children are heading back to school or heading off to college, the countdown is coming to readjust not only your schedule but your dog’s.

During the summer, people tend to be home more often than in the fall – be it having kids home for the summer or spending extra time at home due to summer hours. Your dog can develop a strong bond with you and/or your kids and get used to having people around more often. Once the fall schedule begins, your dog now will have to adjust to a quiet and empty house again. For those of you with new puppies this will be a whole new experience for them.

This change in routine can often cause separation anxiety and/or depression in dogs. Signs of separation anxiety include often what seem like erratic behaviors:

  • obsessive barking and/or whining for long periods of time
  • clawing at doors, windows or fences
  • ripping the stuffing out of pillows
  • chewing the furniture
  • shredding paper
  • getting into the trash
  • going potty in the house
Signs of depression include:
  • listlessness
  • lack of energy
  • loss of appetite
  • hiding or cowering
  • not engaging in play when you are home
Dogs with signs of depression may not get up from the bed when you arrive home, while dogs with separation anxiety will be ecstatic when you arrive home. It can also be a combination of behaviors.
If your school-age children are heading back to school, college-age children are heading off to college or working pet parents are losing their summer hours, there are a few things you can start doing now to ease the transition come September:
  • start leaving your home for short periods of time to get your dog used to alone time again
  • avoid emotional departures and greetings (this goes for the kids too)
  • have your belongings organized and ready to go when you leave (this goes for the kids too)
  • exercise your dog in the morning
  • consider incorporating a professional dog walker for mid-day visits to break up a long day
  • leave engaging toys like a Kong stuffed with frozen peanut butter or another treat for them (ask your dog walker to leave one for them after their walk or engage in a game of “find it” after their walk)
If things do not improve and your dog is not acclimating to the absense of key family members, you may need to talk to your vet to assess if there is an underlying medical condition. An animal behavior specialist may also be helpful.
Now, time to buy some school supplies and Kongs! Happy August!

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