Recently, DDY received a press release on how “Back to School” can be a stressful time for the four-legged members of the family. We really like the transition tips offered so we’re passing it on:
“A summer filled with people around all the time, road trips, extra activities like swimming or hiking and entertainment for dogs and cats comes to a screeching halt, with the house during the day—in some cases—literally emptying out from morning until drive time.
Vetstreet.com’s Julie Shaw, RVT, VTS has some thoughts and advice on how to help your pet transition into this new phase of the year:
1. Limit their environment: Confining a pet when you leave your home is very comparable to restricting a toddler’s access to areas of the home to keep them safe and out of trouble. While crating is one option, other options might include using gates and simply closing doors to decrease their entertainment options. As with any training, the key point is to “teach it before you need it,” so it’s important to begin introducing your pet to confinement before the actual event, and not at the moment you’re leaving for the first day of school.
2. New routine inclusion: Instead of an empty home, help your dog understand where everyone is going and include him/her in the new routine. If you walk your children to the bus stop, take the dog with you, or if you drive them to school, bring the dog in the car. These activities can become part of the new routine and understanding by your pet. Remember, pets are more secure when they have predictability in their lives, so before the actual change in schedule occurs, try to gradually slip into the new routine. Feed them at the same time of day, walk them to the bus stop with the kids and try to keep their schedules as consistent as possible. Learn more about why it’s important to keep your dog on a schedule in this article from Vetstreet.com.
3. Separation anxiety solutions: Less attention and activity may lead to separation anxiety and destructive behaviors. It’s very important that when leaving for school, the kids don’t make a fuss over their pet. Big tearful good-byes and assurances that they will be back at the end of the school day only excites the pet, and then they are suddenly left alone with built-up emotional energy that needs a release. Instead, teach the kids to give their pet a quick good-bye without an emotional barrage. Check out these other tips from Vetstreet.com for alleviating your dog’s separation anxiety.
4. Send your pet “back to school”: How about using this time to send your pet back to school as well? Enroll your pup in a new training program like treibball or scenting classes so they can continue learning while the kids are at school.
5. Pet chores for kids: School is often stressful for kids and returning home to find a pet waiting for them can be an incredible stress reliever. Assign the kids a time to walk the dog when they return home. These don’t have to be aerobic work-out marathons, but instead provide mental stimulation for the pet and a time for the children to discuss their day with their non-judgmental friend. Check out five other ways pets are great for kids in this article from Vetstreet.com.”
Find more tips for this time of year from Vetstreet.com columnist Gina Spadafori, who talks strategic feedings as a means of distraction, here.
Happy Friday everybody! We hope you enjoy every second of your weekend … especially if it’s the last one of your summer vacation!