September is finally here and that means it is back to school time and back to work time for many households. While getting back to the fall schedule can be an exciting fun time for the humans in the home, for your dog it can mean loneliness and boredom. While they will eventually adapt to the situation, many dogs feel neglected, tending to develop anxiety and/or depression, and as a result, they might look for ways to lash out: barking, howling, whining, scratching doors, tearing curtains, having ‘accidents’ inside the house, and in some more dramatic occasions, they won’t even eat their food and/or become panicked when loud noises occur, such as thunderstorms.
So what can you do to help or prevent your dog from having back to school blues? First, if your dog has never experienced ‘back to school,’ it is going to take some time. If your dog has gone through this routine in the past years, he/she may remember the routine and settle in more quickly. A simple routine can help alleviate any stress your dog might feels and he/she will feel appreciated by getting some attention as well.
Morning routine: get the whole family involved with the morning routine. A fifteen (at least) minutes out on a walk or a romp in the backyard, will help your dog to get out that extra energy and it will show that you care and that he/she is part of the family. If your furry friend is an anxious one, leaving a radio or TV on can help.
Afternoon routine: consider hiring a dog walker to go home around midday to let your dog out for potty break and some exercise. Not only it break up the length of time he/she is left alone, but it also help relieving some energy. Taking your dog to a doggy daycare a couple of times a week is another great option.
Back home routine: observe the way you approach your dog when you get home, if you act like you have been gone forever, your dog will think you have been gone forever, instead, try to act ‘natural’ and calm and keep your voice nice and relaxed, then after a few minutes give your dog a warm greet and take him/her out to go to the bathroom and to stretch out and exercise a bit.
Evening routine: you have had a very long day, you had to cook dinner, help the kids with homework, and now you are ready to sit on the couch. But how about your dog? He/she has been waiting for you all day and probably has tons of energy to burn, so after dinner, get the whole family involved again and make sure to take your dog out for some exercise and play time.
Your dog is part of your family independently of the starting or ending of a season and he/she deserves to feel like so. It doesn't take much to show our dogs how much they are loved and cared but it does take discipline and commitment. Luckily, we get great rewards for doing our job as dog parents: loyal four-legged friends who love us more than they could ever love them selves, who provide us with unforgettable memories and give us lots and lots of loving furry kisses!