You have your checklist; school supplies, lunch groceries, new clothes…have you remembered your four-legged kids? Our furry family members often need some help as your family transitions back-to-school. Pets are creatures of habit, and just as soon as they’ve settled into having their companions back home full-time, the schedule changes, once again. This change-up has a tendency to cause some stress on our pets. Here are some things you can do in the following weeks to help:
1. Establish a year-round schedule that your whole family can stick to. Feeding times, play-time, and down-time should all be considered. For example; keep feeding time at the same time each day; play-time in the morning before leaving, and down-time and cuddles happens in the evening.
2. Start taking out some of the supplies that your pet associates with back-to-school (backpacks, lunchboxes, folders, etc.). This will help ease and de-sensitize any anxiety your pet may have to these tell-tale signs of school starting.
3. Keep departures short, sweet, and relaxed. Pets can pick-up on any elevated emotions and will react.
4. Many pets find comfort in having background noise. Try keeping calm music on the radio while they are home-alone.
5. You can also try leaving a piece of clothing with your pet that has your scent on it. This can be very comforting for some pets.
6. Beat the boredom by leaving an interactive toy for your pet while you are gone. Separation anxiety usually produces negative behavior such as destructive chewing or scratching, digging, howling/whining, or accidents in the house. Giving your pet an alternative to keep busy while home-alone can be very helpful!
With consistency and dedication, most pets will get used to the new routine just fine. If your pet suffers from severe separation anxiety, be sure to make an appointment with your vet for advice.