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Back to School Part II: Separation Anxiety

Posted September 5, 2017 @ 10:17am | by Erin Bequette, DVM

Click here to read about back-to-school dangers for pets in Part I!

What do Clifford, Lassie, and Skippyjon Jones have in common?

They all went to school for a grand adventure.  While we’d all like to bring our dogs to school with us, for some reason the teachers frown upon it. Whether you got a new puppy over the summer that hasn’t had to be alone at all, or are heading back to school after a summer filled with extra fun with your dog, they may be a little lonely when their routine changes. This could lead to barking or whining, digging, chewing, or even potty accidents in the house.

The following are some ways to help ease your dog into the transition:

  1. Provide extra stimulation while everyone is at work or school. There are many chew toys on the market that are safe for your dog to play with unattended. My favorite is a Kong filled with frozen peanut butter or easy cheese. Avoid any toys or bones that could be destroyed and ingested, or have pieces broken off and swallowed. Some dogs like to watch TV or even listen to music (my dog would only listen to smooth jazz!)
  2. Practice! Start by leaving your dog for short periods of time, and gradually increase the time you are gone. Don’t make a big deal of saying goodbye or hello as you depart and return. If it’s no big deal to you, they’ll think less of it, too.
  3. Develop an exercise routine now. If your pet is getting enough exercise and stimulation while you are home, they are more likely to rest while you are gone. Consider adding walks or training sessions in (even for your senior dogs - they CAN learn new tricks!).
  4. Consider confining your dog to a kennel or single room in the house. That makes it easier to dog-proof the house, and less likely for your dog to get into an unsafe situation while you are gone. Even when confined, plenty of fresh water should be available at all times.

Symptoms of separation anxiety include excessive vocalization, soiling, digging, chewing, pacing, or escaping. Don’t hesitate to talk to your veterinarian for training tips. Sometimes, after a good physical exam, medications are used to help your pet stay calm, and assist in training.

We hope the school year goes well for your human kiddos and that your fur babies enjoy plenty of evening and weekend fun with the family!

 
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