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Ease your Pet's Back-to-School Blues

Here's how to prepare your pet for when the kids go back to school

Has your pet gotten used to having your kid all to themselves this summer with no set routine? Well now that school is about to be back in session, your pet might experience some anxiety with the new school year schedule. Separation anxiety occurs around this time of year, mainly in dogs, because having kids at home during the summer provides dogs constant mental and physical entertainment. With the loss of that constant excitement, dogs tend to entertain themselves their own way while home alone - whether that's through sleeping the day away or trying to chew through a table.

Here are a few tips from Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center on how to best your pet's back-to-school blues and keep the destruction at bay.

  • Practice your new routine. As a parent, you start getting your kids ready for their school routine before the first day, make sure you include your pets in that as well. Feed your pet earlier, take your dog outside at the same time the kids will leave for school, and start leaving them alone for short periods of time. That way their routine isn't completely out of whack when the first-day-of-school alarm sounds.
  • Crate train. Some dogs do better when they are confined to a smaller place. It just depends on their personality. Start introducing or reintroducing your dog to the crate as part of practicing the new routine; that way your dog isn't overwhelmed when you put him or her in the crate as you and your kids leave for school that first day.
  • Exercise. Exercising your dog before leaving him or her alone all day can help reduce their boredom by tiring them out. While you and your kids are away, your dog will most likely be recovering from the exercise and too busy trying to sleep to make a mess of the house.
  • Provide mental stimulation (for dogs and cats). Leave toys for your pet to play with while your away, especially puzzle toys that they need to solve to receive a treat. By offering other forms of entertainment, your pet should avoid messing with your furniture and other non-pet-toy items in your house.
  • Find a doggie day care or dog walker. Some days are just going to be long days for you and your kids, but that also means for your dog too. Find a doggie day care or dog walker that you can rely on when you know you'll have a long day; that way your dog is able to potty properly and get some extra attention when you're not around.

But whatever you do, have patience with your four-legged family member. Remember, chewed up furniture and messes in the house could be the result of your pet missing the constant entertainment the summer provided them.

If the problems persist, contact your veterinarian for additional assistance as some dogs might need additional training or medication to ease their stress.

Looking for more resources? Check out the Pet Resources' pet information library.

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