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Back-to-School Blues for Fido

Summer's end isn't just stressful for students and parents. Dogs need to adjust to new routines, too.

After a summer filled with family fun vacations in the sun, barbeques, swimming and being surrounded by friends and animal companions, fall brings us to the back-to-school routine. School activities create hectic schedules with less time spent at home. The family dog doesn't understand and wants to know why no one is around to play anymore.

Dogs, being creatures of habit and routine, can become stressed by this sudden change in their day. Separation anxiety is common in this situation and boredom can set in later, too. Some behaviors that indicate separation anxiety are:

  • Inappropriate chewing
  • Excessive barking  
  • Digging
  • Eliminating in the house
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Depression
  • Acting out in ways that are not typical

There are some simple ways to help dogs transition through the change in routine:

  • Re-establishing a routine by feeding the dog at the same times during the day
  • Dogs love to learn, too. Sign up for an obedience class.
  • Learn to be a pet therapy team at a hospital or school.
  • Mental stimulation can be just as effective as physical exercise so use educational toys to exercise your dog's brain.  
  • Hide multiple stuffed toys – like a Kong – throughout the house, creating a game of hide and seek.
  • Schedule play dates
  • Join a Meetup group
  • If your schedule cannot handle one more task, select a good, kind daycare or pet sitter that will spend quality time with your pet during the day.

A couple things to remember: a tired dog is a well behaved dog and nothing replaces time spent with you. Who loves you more?

Larry August 15, 2011 at 05:29 PM
Love that "Who me?" look by the pup surrounded by the ripped out bed stuffing.....

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