It’s back to school time – as kids head out the door for long days and parents close out summer vacation and flex time, there are some family members who are not embracing this new routine: our pets. Both dogs and cats get used to having their human family around during the summer days, and back to school time can bring undue stress. Research shows that dogs do in fact get depression, and separation anxiety can plague both dogs and cats.
How can you tell if your pet is affected? It is usually very apparent. Dogs will howl, scratch, chew things and escape the yard. Both dogs and cats often express their anxiety by urinating in the house.
Back to School Can Be Hard on Pets Too!
Petcurean’s health and nutrition specialist, Michele Dixon, has a few tips to help Fido and Fluffy adjust:
- Keep calm: The biggest thing you can do for your pet is have a calm exit from the home. The frenetic energy of a family rushing out the door can often cause undue stress. Say goodbye well before walking out, and change up triggers – like putting up shoes and picking up keys – well before departing
- Make change gradual: Prior to the start of school, get your pets adjusted to alone time with increasing intervals of time without the family
- Give them a safe place: For dogs who have been crate trained, giving them access to their crate gives them a place of comfort to retreat to
- Burn energy in the AM: If you exercise your pets in the morning, they will have less energy to focus on their anxiety. Some morning play time can help quell fears as well
- Keep them occupied: Leave on the TV or radio if they are used to the background noise, fill at toy with peanut butter to give them a challenge, or leave interactive toys for them to engage with
- Keep your return calm too: When you return home, wait until your pet calms down to greet them. Go about your business until they are calm, then give them some love
Setting your pet up for success is essential. Acknowledge that separation anxiety can be a potential issue, and it is important to help prevent it before it develops.