Back To School Blues: How Does Your Pet Handle Change?

Leon_iStock_000038550576_LargeThe summer is possibly the most special season of the year for your pet, and the reason goes far beyond the extra social occasions, traveling opportunities, and longer than usual naps splayed out on the lawn. It’s the time spent with running amok with your children, of course! But, alas, summer is coming to a close and with autumn on the horizon, your family’s school-year routine is fast approaching. How does your pet handle change when he or she has grown accustomed to surges in attention and activity this summer?

The transition for an actively engaged family pet can range from difficult to heart-breaking, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Our suggestions aim to help your family pet cope with the back to school blues, so you can all make the pet care honor roll together.

Setting The Scene

Your pet is likely a creature of habit and enjoys the predictable nature of a routine. Sure, at summer’s start, the squeals of highly energetic kids may have upset your four-legged friend’s certain quietude, but after months of non-stop, giddy-up fun, he or she is either used to the noise and chaos, or a serious player in the mix.

To help your pet handle change, you may want to slowly introduce the idea of a new routine. Over the course of a couple weeks prior to the first day of school, implement longer stretches of time spent apart from your pet. If you anticipate that your pet will experience sadness, depression, or anxiety, please let us know and we’ll do everything we can to help.

Compassionate Kids

You can help your pet handle change by integrating his or her emotional and physical needs fully into your family’s new routine. Encourage your kids to express love and compassion for your pet. Offer extra cuddles, rubdowns, treats, when you leave and return to create a positive association with these new changes. Also:

  • Increase your pet’s physical activity and mental stimulation when you get home. Reward him or her for good behavior.
  • Take your pet to his or her favorite place in the house to boost feelings of safety and security. When you leave the house, he or she will be more likely to remain in that spot.
  • Provide a mentally stimulating (and rewarding) toy behind, such as a Kong.
  • Never punish or scold your pet if the back to school blues makes him or her behave differently.

How Does Your Pet Handle Change?

Disruptions in your pet’s routine can manifest in different ways, and bad behavior can truly throw a wrench in the new school year’s demands and schedule. Please keep an eye out for any of these behaviors that may warrant a little extra attention, or professional support:

  • Excessive barking, howling, whimpering, or whining
  • Destructive behavior
  • Indiscriminate soiling
  • Repetitive searching, sniffing, and looking out of windows
  • Lack of appetite
  • Noise sensitivity or panic
  • Clingy behavior after family returns
  • Cat scratching

Without a constant barrage of sticky fingers or piggy-back rides, your pet may lash out in order to cope with the solitude. This could mean bored explorations in your garbage cans, pantry, potted plants, or storage areas that can potentially expose serious household dangers. Please keep a close eye on your pet’s behavior and reactions, and call us if you suspect he or she needs critical care.

Forging Ahead

Providing company and exercise opportunities for your pet in your absence is a wonderful idea. If possible, hire a dog walker or pet sitter to come by once or twice a day to feed, exercise, or check on your pet. This attention can go a long way toward soothing your pet during the difficult transition, and keep the back to school blues at bay.

Remember to try and keep those meal times and exercise routines going strong throughout the school year, and if we can answer any questions, we’ll try our best to answer them!

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