Monthly Archives: August 2017

Doggies Can Get Back-to-School Blues

August in Columbus can mean balmy weather, an end to swimming outdoors, and most importantly, the kids going back to school. Whether your kids love or dislike the thought, there is one thing for certain: it will be quite an adjustment for your dog.

It’s not unusual for dogs or even cats to get depressed when the kids go back to school. There has been noise and confusion all summer and generally more time to spend with the dog. Some dogs even trot to the neighborhood corner, faithfully awaiting the arrival of the school bus. Or stare out the window while the kids are in school, eagerly awaiting their arrival. In dog trainer terms we often call this separation anxiety – which can lead to excessive salivating, barking, whining, chewing, digging and other destructive behaviors. Separation anxiety occurs when dogs become upset because of separation from the people they’re attached to.

So how can you make this transition easier for your dog?

  • Exercise. A bored dog is a mischievous dog. You’re going to have to ramp up the time you spend exercising with your dog, because exercise releases endorphins which are feel-good chemicals in your dog’s brain. Take longer walks or walk more times/day. If the dog is going to be home alone all day, consider getting a dog walker.
  • Smell. It will calm the dog if you leave behind a t-shirt or an article of clothing from the child who is going to be gone. The scent will relax him.
  • Get Used to a new Routine. Dogs thrive on routine. A week before school starts, slowly back off the amount of time the kids spend with the dog so he learns he is no longer the center of attention. If you normally take your dog with you to run errands, leave him at home. As you are leaving for the day, don’t confuse him by saying sweetly: “We’ll be home soon.” If he is anxious about you leaving, your high-pitched tone will reinforce that it’s okay for him to feel anxious. Don’t make a big deal about leaving; instead, just leave without saying anything.
  • New Toys. Dogs love new toys but they can get quickly bored with them. After a few days of playing with a new toy, put it away for awhile and then rotate them. Dogs particularly love toys that contain food where they have to work to get the treats out. This keeps their mind and body occupied. Dogs need something to do while everyone is gone.
  • Games. After school, have the kids play a rousing game of Hide and Seek, tug-of-war or fetch. Games give your dog a chance to play and have fun.
  • Secure Indoors:When the kids leave for school, keep your dog securely inside your home so he isn’t tempted to follow your child down the street. A crate may make him feel comfortable and secure.

The main thing is you must establish a new routine. Although the dog will be excited when the kids get home, give everyone a few minutes to relax before play time begins so the dog doesn’t get too hyper.

Also consider this: it may be a good time for your dog to go back to school too with some private dog training classes!