It’s back to school time!
Written by: Joan DeHaven, DVM
The time of year where families are preparing to send their little ones off to learn. During this hectic season of shopping for pencils and backpacks, we often forget that big changes are about to occur to our “furry children” as well. They have gotten used to having their kids at home and may need some help adjusting to the new schedule. To help, we have put together some tips on how to ease your pets transition into the school year.
With the new schedule, your pet often will be left alone for much longer periods of time than over the summer. For dogs with any level of separation anxiety, this can be a difficult transition. Try to prepare your pup for being left alone by practicing brief absences from home. Start with very short trips, just a few minutes at a time, and then gradually make them longer and more unpredictable in length. Do not make the coming and going routine a big ordeal. Simply leave in the morning, and do not greet your pet when you get home until he has calmed down. Does your dog start whining and carrying on every time you grab your keys or purse? Start desensitizing him to these “exit cues” by toting these items around even when you are not planning on going anywhere. Over time, he will stop associating the key or purse with your leaving. Lastly, make sure to give your pet a yummy treat when you leave, preferably something that will take time to chew or eat (kongs are great for this). This treat will help take his mind off of the changes, and also allow him to associate something fun with your absence.
Make sure to include your pets in the new routine. Get them on a regular walking schedule. This will not only give you quality time with your pet, but is also a healthy choice for both of you. Make sure to plan socialization and play time, along with homework and extracurricular activity time. Often, we forget our furry family members when things get more hectic in our schedules. Encourage your children to help set aside this time, and try to keep it as routine as possible. Establishing this daily activity will smooth the transition for the entire family.
Lastly, don’t forget to keep your pet’s health in tip top shape during this very hectic time of year. Make sure that your animals have had their yearly physicals as well as your children, and are up-to-date on all their preventative care. If they are in need of anything, let your veterinarian know. It’s important to remember that changes in our lives can greatly affect our pets.