If you’re a parent, you are either counting the days until your kids head back to school or dreading it. No matter where you are in this spectrum, back to school time is fast-approaching. Do you know who is even less excited about the kids getting out of the house? It’s the family dog or cat.
This chaotic time can be very confusing for your fur-baby. Their most treasured companions may seem busy, preoccupied and distracted. Then to make it worse, the kids are heading out the door without them.
What is Separation Anxiety in Pets?
The goal is to make the transition smooth and avoid separation anxiety by planning ahead. How so you know if your dog or cat has separation anxiety? Here are some tell-tale (or should we say tell-tail) signs:
- Chewing furniture. This is simply out of boredom and being without something active to do at home.
- Shredding or ripping up anything. From toilet paper to stuffing from pillows, if you come home to find your dog has dismantled something, it’s most likely a cry for help that they miss you.
- Obsessive barking. Sometimes people hear their dogs have been barking “all day” to the shock and surprise of the pet parent. Again, this is a display of the loss they are experiencing when they are suddenly back on their own.
Tips to Ease Into Back to School Routines
Here are some things you can do to ease the discomfort for your pet during the back-to-school hustle and bustle.
- Make the transition a gradual one. Simulate an average school day by leaving them indoors for a short time in the morning. In addition, introduce things like back packs and lunch boxes to your pet before the first day of school so they become used to seeing these things in the morning.
- Play with your pet in the morning. In order to make up for the absence during the day, encourage your kids to give them extra hugs and kisses before leaving for school and especially when they return.
- Pets are part of family time. Include them in evening family time, such as a game of catch, play or a nice walk outside.
- Play some tunes. Help break up the silence by playing some music during the day. This can help soothe anxiety for your pet when they are home alone.
- Aim for a peaceful departure. A dramatic exit filled with chaos can add to your pet’s stress. Instead, make a calm and quiet exit much like you would do for a toddler at daycare. Say goodbye with a stroke of their fur and assurances of return.
- Schedule quality time on the weekend. To make up for these longer absences, be sure to include longer walks, a trip to the park, pampering or relaxing together will keep your pet feeling safe, loved and included.
We know this time of year can be adjustment for people and pets alike. These simple suggestions will help the transition period be as seamless as possible!