Beat the Back to School Blues
Were you enjoying knocking off 15 minutes from your morning commute? Starting to appreciate the trade-off between two hundred and three flies (your fly swat went on an assassination mission 8-10 times a day but They. Just. Kept. Coming. Back.) for a little warmer weather? Okay warmer rain. Then you noticed the calendar actually creeping towards September (the supermarkets have been trying to tell us this since July, we were growing immune) and you had to accept ‘back to school’ is back.
However we aren’t the only ones facing a little anxiety whenever the school year comes back around, our dogs can get those ‘back to school’ blues too. When busy schedules come back into play, the kids are dashing for the bus or jumping into the car every morning and heading to after school activities in the evening, our favourite furry friends can start to feel a little lonely. They had gotten used to climbing in for cuddles on a lazy Wednesday morning and following your 5 year old around the house like completing their next mission together was the only matter of business that mattered.
So we’ve put together our top 4 tips to make the transition a little easier and banish the blues a little faster.
1. Avoid Drastic Changes
If a return to school results in a return to a different schedule, if possible gradually introduce those changes over the first week. Whether that be a different time for their daily walks, feeding or playtime, let your dog adjust to your new schedule rather than waking them up to a completely different routine on Monday morning.
It’s also important to remember to keep calm, don’t make a fuss about leaving them alone. As difficult as it can be to leave them, if you let them know you’re finding it tough, they’ll be guaranteed to find it tougher because dogs feed off of our energy. Therefore if you act like it’s no big deal, you’ll be more likely to find – it won’t be a big deal.
2. Provide Entertainment
If your dog has a lot of energy, it may be worth setting your alarm for an earlier rise (we know the struggle) to let them have a morning walk. That way, you are providing an opportunity for their favourite exercise to tire them out and reducing the chances of built up energy fuelling any stress they may feel (they’ll also be less likely to miss you during their mid-morning snooze).
Perhaps most importantly, provide toys for them to play with or activities to engage in. If you were left alone, with nothing but the clock to watch and touring the house as your only change of scenery its safe to say boredom would become a firm friend (I know that sounds dreamy as you try and remember the last time you had time to look at the clock…). It’s the same for your dog. Leaving them a toy to play with or a treat to get out of a ball will provide your dog with a distraction from their loneliness or stress. Providing hours of enjoyment and mental stimulation to keep them busy while you’re gone.
After getting used to the family hustle and bustle on a daily basis, your dog won’t only notice the lack of company by their side but also the lack of noise. Leaving the television on or not switching off the radio to provide subtle background noise can also help your dog become accustomed to a quieter household again during the day.
3. Reassure Them
When you return home after a busy day, spend quality time with your dog and reassure them that they are an important part of the family. While you were dealing with the fifth office crisis of the week (forget fifth, you’ve lost count of all the problems you’ve already solved this week) and your kids were explaining the dog actually ate their homework last night (they weren’t even present to defend themselves or point out Brandy is far tastier… obviously) your furry family member was at home eagerly awaiting your return. Take them on a nice walk around the neighbourhood, curl up on the sofa for an overdue cuddle or spend time with them doing their favourite activity (no matter how tempting it is to simply face plant your bed).
4. Visit the Vet
If you’ve tried all these tips and your dog isn’t responding, it’s important to realise when you might need some extra help. Pet separation anxiety isn’t as uncommon as you might think and it’s estimated as many as 1.8 million dogs within the UK are suffering from separation issues. So it may well be worth a chat with your vet to find out what they recommend for your particular dog or if there is something else contributing to or causing your pet’s anxiety.