Summertime is a prime time for adopting puppies. But come fall, as kids and adults head back to school, millions of puppies and young dogs tend to get the blues. After all, they’ve had back-to-back months of playtime with their best friends, who are now going to be away for much of the day.
So before hitting the books, try prepping your pooch for the day when that big yellow bus arrives and he has to face his day alone. Animal behavior specialists recommend the following tips to help young dogs deal with the back-to-school blues in case they should come around.
1. Practice leaving your dog at home for short periods of time.
If he isn’t used to being alone, this will help prepare him for being on his own for some time. Start a couple of weeks in advance of the back-to-school date and gradually leave him for longer periods so he can re-adjust to longer absences.
2. Try not to get emotional.
Dogs definitely pick up on human emotions, which will make your leaving even harder on them—and you.
3. Try some morning exercise.
If possible, walk your dog or let him get some extra exercise in the yard prior to leaving. This can help him relax and be less stressed when you leave.
4. Give him a safe place to take refuge.
Make sure your dog has a place in your home where he can retreat while you’re gone. In some homes, this is a soft doggy bed. Others may use a crate. Just make sure that it’s a safe place where your dog can find comfort.
5. Supply him with some dog-safe toys.
This will help keep him occupied while you’re gone. This will also help your pooch learn to entertain himself until everyone gets home.
6. Consider taking your dog to the bus stop to see the kids off.
Many pet parents have found that this approach makes their pet feel more a part of the process, and it allows both dogs and children to have a little more time together each morning.
7. Send your dog to obedience school.
Back-to-school time could be the perfect occasion for your pup to learn (or get back to “class”) basics as well!
8. If your dog seems unable to adjust, consider a doggie day care, hiring a dog sitter, or just hiring someone to walk the dog or let him out a couple of times a day.
All of these measures can help with dogs that just don’t seem to be able to make the transition.
When to see a veterinarian.
If you’ve tried your best to help your dog adjust, and he doesn’t seem able to, he may be suffering from more pronounced separation anxiety and should see a veterinarian. Symptoms can include:
- Chewing furniture and other household items
- Shredding paper
- Extended periods of loud barking or whining
- Urinating or defecating in the house.
If separation anxiety isn’t the cause, there may be an underlying medical condition that can be making your dog behave in an anxious or depressed manner. Your veterinarian will be able to help with this.
Other scholarly advice.
Animal behavior experts suggest having school-age children walk their dogs upon returning home from school, or playing a favorite game with them. Both your dog and your child will welcome the break after a long, demanding day. Exercise also releases endorphins that can help your pooch feel better.
In the end, your furry friend will appreciate and benefit from anything you can do to ease his transition into the new school year.
Can your dog tell when it’s back-to-school time? What do you do to help your dog adjust? Please share your experience with us!