Most people think of setting alarm clocks, getting backpacks and lunches ready, setting out clothes in them morning, and other similar routines when they prepare for the new schedule that accompanies the start of a new school year. But you won’t be the only one missing your kids while they are off at school. Chances are, the family dog could have a little separation anxiety as well.
It makes sense. For a few blissful months each summer, Fido gets to wake up every morning and spend the day getting lots of attention from your kids, playing in the backyard, going to the dog park or lake, or helping himself to any meaty morsels that fall to the ground during meal times. When the kids go back to school, it can be a little upsetting for your dog now that he doesn’t have as much attention.
You can help relieve any stress your dog may feel by getting him ready for the new schedule at the same time as your kids:
- Practice going through the motions of getting ready for school in the morning, and actually walk out the door with the kids. Wait a few moments, and come back inside but don’t show too much excitement to see your dog. This way, your dog gets used to the routine, and by treating the event as just ordinary, it won’t trigger as much stress in your dog.
- Instruct family members to not make a big fuss when leaving the house. Too much excitement could alert the dog that something stressful is about to happen.
- Consider leaving a shirt or other clothing item of your child’s in your dog’s crate or bed. This could help ease some of the anxiety.
- Take longer walks in the mornings when it’s cool to provide physical exercise that will help reduce stress.
- To alleviate boredom, leave treat puzzles for your dogs to solve. You can search for “Dog Treat Puzzles” online to find a variety of toys that require your dog to work to get a treat. This not only helps reduce boredom, but also works your dog’s mental muscles.
And once school starts, your dog will still have some adjusting to do. During your morning walks, your dog may be excited to see so many kids walking to school. Be sure that children don’t crowd around your dog or reach down to grab his head or neck. If they ask to pet him and your dog like to be petted, ask them to stand still while you put your dog in a sit position. Then, and only if your dog is okay with it, ask children to pet your dog’s sides (not the top of his head). And definitely do not allow a child to try to kiss your dog on the nose.
With some patience and a little preparation, your dog will be used to the new routine in no time!