It’s back to school season. Kids are returning to school, vacations are coming to an end, and everyone is busy. Plus, the weather is cooling down, and there are less outdoor activities.
Over the summer, your dog probably loved that someone was always home, or at least not gone for very long, and there were lots of outdoor activities with the family. But now, your dog doesn’t really understand why you’re gone and why everyone is suddenly leaving him. Many dogs suffer from depression and separation anxiety when kids return to school, mostly due to loneliness and the feeling of exclusion.
Tips to ease your dog into the new family schedule
Continue your dog’s routine
Dogs find comfort in having a consistent routine, so keeping their schedule intact smooths the transition. This includes maintaining the same feeding times, walking schedule, playtime activities and anything else you do every day with your pup. It can be hard to fit this in with all your new responsibilities, but your dog is a member of your family. So even if it means waking up a little early to give them the extra time and love they need, do it. It will benefit everyone in the end.
Consider daycare or sports classes
Dog daycare and sports activities get your dog out of the house, and their mind off you. Daycare offers socialization with other dogs and humans while sports activities, such as hikes and agility, offer exercise and mental engagement – all positive things to keep your pup happy. If enrichment activities aren’t practical for you or your dog every day, consider signing your dog up once or twice a week. It breaks up the week and gives them something to look forward to.
Group hikes make dogs happier!
Fill the day with activities
Being home alone all day is boring, even for humans. Your dog can’t hang out on social media or read a book, so if you do leave your dog home alone, make sure they have plenty of things to do. Turning on music or the TV on at a low volume may help curb loneliness. Puzzle chew toys are fun and will keep your dog occupied for a while. Some of our favorites are the Kong Wobbler, West Paw puzzles and Starmark Bentoball. Finally, schedule the dog walker around every 4 to 5 hours (as dogs should not be left alone more than 6 hours).
Make time for your dog
Your dog has been waiting patiently all day for a chance to socialize and interact with you and your family. Set aside special time to hang out with your dog after work or school every day. Some fun ideas include taking a family walk with your dog after dinner, playing indoor games like tug of war or fetch, or teaching your dog new, fun tricks, like “roll over” or “play dead.” Whatever you chose to do, make sure it’s active and inclusive.
Has your dog been showing signs of separation anxiety now that schedules have changed? Let us know how the new school year is going for you and your pup!
Originally published on September 5, 2018. Updated on August 18, 2019.