Avoiding The Back To School Blues
Summer is almost over! Stores are packed with shoppers picking up supplies and kids are gearing up to rejoin their classmates at school. Some of us face this time of year with joy, like the stay-at-home parent who looks forward to the peace of an eleven o’clock cup of coffee. Some of us are a little more uneasy, including your family dog. Summers bring a wealth of activity for your pooch – kids have all day to play, families gather to visit and celebrate, bedtime is late and sleeping in is heavenly. Who would want such fun to end? In addition to adjusting the family’s routine leading in to the school year, you may want to consider ways to ease Fluffy into the transition, as well.
How do you know if your dog is having an issue with the changes in the household? If he has anxiety, it can manifest in a variety of behaviors, including pacing, excessive panting and vocalization like whining or barking, bolting through doors, or, worse, destroying his or your belongings and improper elimination. These behaviors can also signal other issues, so never hesitate to get your veterinarian’s opinion.
How can you combat Rover’s unease? Every dog is different, but even small things can help. Start with setting up the school year routine well before the first day of class. Include an extra walk each morning to wear off potential nervous energy. When leaving the home each day, provide a little ambient noise like the TV or radio to help distract him from the silence. Use DAP or dog appeasing pheromone devices like collars or plug-ins to add a soothing touch under all conditions. Keep his brain busy with problem solving toys that keep his mind stimulated. When coming home each day, keep the initial entry calm and focused, and try not to make a big deal of coming or going. Maybe throw in an extra walk around the block or some time set aside to work on reinforcing his training, especially if the kids can be involved. Be prepared to keep up with what works and be flexible with what doesn’t.