It’s hard to say goodbye to summer, not only for us but also for our furry four-legged friends too! As we get nervous to jump into the back-to-school routine yet again, so do our pets. Our pets enjoy the summer because it’s more time to spend with us! During the summer, most of us either take a vacation from work or your children are home from school and able to give that extra attention and exercise our pets long for. With the back-to-school schedule quickly approaching, our dogs and cats can be left wondering “Why the sudden change?”—and this can make them feel stressed.
Our pets thrive on routine, they like knowing what to expect and when to expect it. What may seem like a small change to you, can feel like a very big change for our pets and can cause them to feel anxious. Without routine stimulation they’ve grown accustomed to, pets can entertain themselves or act out their stress by barking, scratching furniture, getting into the trash, house soiling, being generally destructive.
The best thing to do for your pet is to avoid abrupt change and work them into their new routine in the time leading up to the school year with short periods of separation that gradually become longer. Rely on the following tips to help prevent behavior problems and maintain the health and happiness of your pet while you’re away.
Give your pet a treat every time you leave to help them develop positive associations with being alone.
Keep your departures and returns quiet and low-key so it doesn’t arouse any alarm unduly. Leave a familiar blanket or one of your t-shirts with your pet. Your smell will help soothe them. Ask your kids to spend quality time with the family pet after school – a walk around the block, a game of fetch in the yard.
Puzzle treats entertain longer – Keep them stimulated with physical and mental workouts. Hiding treats around the home can keep a dog or cat busy for hours. Stuffed Kongs are also great entertainment for dogs and some cats love to find a paper bag lying open on the floor (sprinkle cat nip inside)!
Consider hiring an occasional dog walker or bring your pooch to a doggie daycare a few times a week to break up their day. This can help alleviate boredom and provide your pet with exercise.
Don’t scold or punish your pet for bad behavior when you come home. It may make your pet more anxious and make situations worse.
Try to avoid making additional changes if you can help it – don’t change their diet at this time, for example. Keep exercise consistent and set aside a designated time each evening to give your pet one-on- one attention.