Preparing Your Dog for Back-To-School: Tips to Help Your Pet Handle the Change
As summer fast becomes a memory and children head back to school, the sudden transition from active household to quiet days can be stressful for your pet. Sometimes when your pet’s “best friend” heads back to school they experience separation anxiety. With more people away from home during the day, some pets become anxious or nervous and may exhibit behavioral problems.
Pets understand and do well with routines. Keeping a regular schedule for eating, sleeping, playtime, and exercise will help pets feel more relaxed. To make the change to a fall routine less stressful, there are things that can make your pet more comfortable with “Back to School” life at home.
Make Home Safe and Comfortable
Providing a safe and comfortable place for your pet to spend longer periods of time alone is an important part of your pet’s back-to-school routine. Here are a few helpful tips.
- Playing the radio or TV can help your pet feel less abandoned
- Leave their favorite play toy or pet puzzle to keep them busy and provide mental stimulation
- Make sure your dog cannot get to the trash or other potentially dangerous items
- Crate train your pet
- Leave a piece of clothing with your scent
If your dog is going to be spending long days alone, try taking them for a long, early morning walk. Exercise helps bring their energy level down, making it easier for them to rest during the day. A new routine of offering active play when you return home from school or work can also be helpful. Providing active time when you are home will help establish a fun option your dog will love.
If an early walk isn’t possible, consider a play day at AVAC. Our Barks and Recreation Daycare gives your dog the opportunity to run and play with other furry friends – all supervised by our wonderful kennel staff. Plenty of shade, fresh water, and fun activities will keep your pet busy and happy.
AVAC also has Friday enrichment sessions available. Your dog gets 15-minutes of one-on-one time with a certified pet trainer. Enrichment sessions are designed to engage your pet through mental, physical, sensory, and confidence-building activities based on your pet's specific needs.
Training classes additionally offer a great opportunity to help your dog learn important life skills, while providing a wonderful bonding experience with your pet. Training will also assist your pet’s back-to-school transition by building their confidence, social skills, and control. For more information on class availability visit our training web page here.
While training classes along with a set routine can help your pet cope with anxiety, medication can also be beneficial for some dogs. If your pet exhibits separation anxiety, (e.g., destructive behavior, excessive barking, inappropriate elimination) schedule an exam with one of our vets to determine the best course of treatment for your pet.
Last But Definitely Not Least: Remember Their Health
Back-to-School can be a good reminder to schedule your pet’s wellness exam. Although your family time may be more hectic, make sure your pet’s needs are not an afterthought as you transition to new schedules. Don’t forget their vaccines, food supply, and any medications they have been prescribed. These simple steps will keep your pet happy and healthy as you get your back-to-school groove going.
To schedule your pet’s wellness exam, vaccines, daycare, or boarding stay, call (205) 967-7383.
Julie Grimes, DVM