Back to school can be a stressful time for all members of the family! As we transition back into the routine of busy mornings, after school activities, and homework, your pet can experience stress as well. There are several things we can do as pet owners that help in getting your dog ready for back-to-school to make the school year transition as low stress as possible.
Your mornings may be more hectic with getting children ready to head out the door, but cutting corners with only a short walk for your canine companion can result in more trouble later in the day. Pets that normally spend their day playing, going in and out with kids, or being stimulated with people around, can experience stress and anxiety when they are suddenly left alone. Aim to get up a bit earlier to allow for a long walk or 20-minute play session in the yard before heading out for work and school to get the energy out. Then your pet can rest during the day while you are gone and be ready for playtime again when you come home. You can also consider a pet walking service or pet-sitter to come in for a mid-day activity session.
We have routines as we leave the house– getting the keys, checking the back door, turning out the lights, and saying good-bye to the dog. But our pets pick-up on these cues and can associate them with separation and stress. Try to make coming and going as low impact as possible and vary some of your routines. Distraction can also help prevent the wind-up behavior for some pets. Using a highly desired treat such as peanut butter or frozen pieces of banana in a puzzle toy can divert your pet’s attention from you leaving and help them get out energy. Be sure any toy or treat is safe for pets, meaning the toy is not easily broken down into pieces that can be swallowed, and that the food is non-toxic for pets. Ask your veterinarian for recommendations.
Once the day is winding down, be sure you and your family are still setting time aside to spend with your pets. Maintaining the human-animal bond is essential for a happy pet and pet owner. This may mean snuggle time on the couch, or learning a new activity on the weekends or evenings, such as agility or training classes. Discuss with your family and family veterinarian what activities and level of activity would be best for your pet based on their breed, age, and medical conditions.
Not everyone loves back to school (parents do!), but simple steps to ensure your pet has a smooth transition will help prevent the back-to-school blues for pet owners and pets alike!
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