Thursday, September 8, 2011

Back To School Blues

For most families it's soon to be 'Back to School' week.  After 3 months of fun and family many dogs are finding themselves home alone.  With all the hustle and bustle of getting our kids back to school we often overlook how this impacts our dogs.  Not only are the kids back to school, but after school activities are also starting which takes up alot of evening and weekend time too.  For months our dogs have enjoyed more walks, more petting, more rides in the car, more of what they enjoy most, YOU!   This is the time of year that I start getting phone calls from frantic pet parents who's dogs are misbehaving.   The offenses include barking, digging, stealing things, destructive behavior, house soiling, etc. 

To help your dog adjust to the new routine, keep a few things in mind:
  • Make sure your dog is getting enough exercise!  We often don't realize the decrease in exercise when our kids return to school.  Your dog may go from having hours of playtime to suddenly laying around all day.  All this pent up energy has to go somewhere.  If you have to leave your dog home alone all day be sure he is getting sufficient exercise in the evenings. 
  • If your dog suffers from separation anxiety consider hiring a dog walker to split  their day and give them some human companionship midday.  To go from having constant companionship to suddenly being left alone for 8-10 hours is very distressing, a mid day break can help ease the pain.
  • Provide your dog with a variety of food dispensing toys, these provide mental stimulation and allow your dog to entertain themselves in your absence. 
  • Schedule play dates with other dogs,  puppies and adult dogs enjoy socialization and play
  • Allow your dog to ride along on the carpool, walk to the bus stop with you, attend the after school soccer game when appropriate. 
If you find yourself in a quandary as to why your typically well behaved dog is suddenly acting like a terrorist they may have a case of 'Back To School Blues".

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