My husband and I are both teachers, so every summer we are home with our dogs for three whole months and then, suddenly, we are leaving them home alone all day. Back to school is a huge adjustment for us, to be sure, but it’s a big adjustment for our dogs, too. In fact, last fall is when we decided to get our second dog; when we went back to school, our first dog would put on a show of whining and giving us sad, lonely looks so we decided to get her a friend. Dogs, especially, are social creatures and can benefit greatly from having humans or other pets around, but the same goes for many other animals. Even if you’re still home but the kids have gone back to school, the lack of playtime and activity can have your pet acting up or feeling depressed when back to school time rolls around. Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do to help your pet adjust.
1. Practice Leaving
If you or your kids have been home all day with your pet all summer, the best thing you can do is practice leaving. For the weeks leading up to school starting, find something to do each day that gets you out of the house for a few hours. By leaving and coming back, you are reminding your pet that, even though you have to leave, you will be back. Also, when you do get back, set aside some time to play with your pet. Let him know he’s loved. This way, your pet will always look forward to the moment you come home because it will be playtime.
2. Tire Them Out
Pets — especially dogs — need activity. If you play with them or work them in some way, their bodies will go into rest mode and they will be more likely to sleep or rest while you are away. If they are resting, they are less likely to destroy your home while you are gone. Play with your pet first thing in the morning or, if you can, take him for a walk. My husband and I try to take our dogs for long walks every Sunday in order to tire them out for the coming week. It helps them adjust to us being away.
3. Use Background Noise
If no one is home during the day, a popular thing to do is to turn on a talk radio station or the television. Sometimes, the quiet can get to be too much for your pet and they get nervous or anxious while you are gone. This can lead to compulsive chewing on things around the house, or other bad behavior. Leaving on some kind of background noise can help your pet feel safe and comfortable while your family is back at school.
4. Get Them a Friend
We decided to get our first dog a friend when we saw how lonely she was when we went back to school. However, this isn’t always an option. When we first got our second dog, people would warn us: “Twice the dogs, four times the trouble!” While we found that not to be true in the least, it is double the cost and at least double the hair on the floor during shedding seasons. If getting a friend for your pet isn’t the answer, look into daycare options. These can be great for your pet to socialize with other pets while exercising and playing with other humans. Your pet would benefit from a daycare setting even if you only did it once or twice a week. It will allow them to have some excitement, play with other pets and they’ll return to you tired and well-behaved.
5. Hire a Visitor
If daycare isn’t an option for you, consider hiring a visitor for your pet while your family is back in school. This can be a dog walker or someone who just comes over and plays with your pet while feeding him or replenishing his water. It generally isn’t very expensive to have someone come over and spend a little time with your pets while everyone is at school, and it can make a world of difference to your furry friends.
Do you have other suggestions for helping your pet adjust when everyone is back to school? Leave them in the comments!
Photo Credit: Ruocaled