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September again. And everyone in the house is anxious and excited to get back to school. So in all the chaos, where does that leave Rover?
Back-to-school doggy blues
Did you know that dogs can suffer from things like depression and anxiety just like humans can? And it can be easily triggered by daily routine changes. Think about it; all summer long there’s probably been a lot of activity, outdoor fun and kids to play with. Then all of a sudden one morning, everyone gets up and leaves for the day. And not only that, it happens the next day and the next. Poor pooch is left confused, sad and lonely. They don’t understand why the fun stopped and why their ‘pack‘ abandons them every day.
Accustom your dog before school starts
Dog’s don’t understand our human needs for education, work and bill paying. So to help avoid the sudden loneliness your pup might feel when our responsibilities take presidency, start the routine a week before school starts. Break your dog into the impending life change by slowly accustoming them to the new schedule before it happens.
Keep your comings and goings low key
Start with your comings and goings. Are you one of those people who get really excited to see your dog? And maybe really sad when you have to leave them? Well if so, you’re definitely not alone! But how you deal with it could play a huge roll in creating anxious feelings for your dog.
So keep your entries and exits low key. When it’s time to go out, just go. Don’t fuss about it and make a production for your dog. I know you want to kiss your dog good-bye, but your dog doesn’t understand what you’re doing. To them, the fuss of you leaving is reason for stress and anxiety; ‘Omg my owner is leaving and they might NEVER come back….omg….I can’t handle this….what do I do….how do I protect them…why are they leaving me……I thought I was part of the pack…..OMG….’ and on the commentary goes in your dog’s mind. But if you just get up and leave with no drama, your dog might be shocked for a moment. But soon they will realize if it’s not a big deal to you, then it shouldn’t be a big deal to them.
Exercise your dog
Make sure you set aside time everyday to let your dog get the beans out. And unless your dog is frail or elderly a quick little jaunt around the block ain’t gonna do! So take them to a dog park or beach, throw a Frisbee and play
games. Maybe even set up a doggy play-date with friends who also have dogs. I know back to school can be a crazy time but all that craziness can have a negative effect on your dog if you neglect their physical requirements.
Hire a dog walker
To help break up their day and give them something to look forward to. Have a dog walker come and take Rover out in the middle of the day. That will give them something to look forward to as well as break up their day. Plus some fresh air and exercise is healthy for the body and the mind.
Leave some calming music on
Classical music has been proven to sooth and calm nerves. So find the classical station on the radio or TV and leave it on low for the day. It’ll help keep them calm, give them a distraction, and will pass the time.
Written by Brenda McBurnie, Certified Dog Trainer and Natural Nutrition