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Alleviating Your Dog’s Back-to-School Blues

By Tamara McRill

It can be cute watching your dog tug on backpacks and careening for the door once school’s out, but the sadness some dogs feel in the fall is no laughing matter. The “Dog Days of Summer” could stand for the glorious months pets spend playing and bonding with their youngest owners, but all of the fun winds down in August. The kidlets go back to school and their four-legged best friends are left bereft of company for the majority of the day.

The feelings depressed dogs can go through at this time are very real, and they will need your help to minimize its impact. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to do just that.

Before School Starts

In the weeks before school starts, you can be working on transitioning your pet to his new fall routine. Gradually shift play, exercise and meal times to the times these will occur when school is in session. Don’t forget to also work on a new potty schedule.

It can be hard to lessen contact between pet and child during the times they would normally be in school, but try. If your dog will be spending more time outside or in a certain room while your child is in class, now would be a good time to get her used to it.

If your child is going off to college and is your pet’s primary companion, now is also the time for you – or whomever will be taking over – to start taking a larger role in their care.

Run It Out

Pets with excess energy can be destructive forces, as can dogs with separation anxiety. Make sure your dog is getting enough exercise and interaction. Just going for a walk probably isn’t going to cut it. Go for a run, play fetch or some other physically exhausting activity before your child leaves for the day. Getting up early is a small price to pay for coming home to intact furniture.

Food Comes After Play

If you feed your dog in the mornings, make sure to do it after exercise. You don’t want them to burn off the calming effect of a full belly. Also, having your child offer the food or a few CANIDAE dog treats just before going to school will help your pooch associate their leaving with something good. This can cut down on ‘fits’ thrown before they leave.

Soothing Distractions

Dog food and exercise may not hold out for the eight or so hours your pet may be left without their favorite buddy. You can offer them further distractions to keep them happy and healthy throughout the day. The television often works wonders for this. My dog Cody prefers daytime TV, but many people swear by nature channels too.

You can also try these:

- Durable toys (nothing they can choke on)
- A window where they can look out at nature
- Clothing or dirty laundry with your child’s scent
- Chew toys with dog treats inside
- Calming scents, such as lavender or vanilla
- A fish tank to watch
- A few comfy places to nap

Keep Calm

Don’t make a big deal out of leaving and arriving. If your child gets upset about going to school, it might be a good idea not to let them interact with the dog before leaving. Dogs can sense our emotions and you wouldn’t want them to be left alone while sympathizing with that anxiety.

Does your pet get sad when the kids go back to school? How do you keep them calm when no one will be home?

Photo by lalawren

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