Summer is ending and fall is drawing near. As school starts up again, your pets may have a hard time adjusting to the new routine of waiting for their companions to return home every evening. It is not an uncommon problem; many pets experience separation anxiety (or the back-to-school blues) when their owners head back to school, especially if they have never been left alone.
Signs that your pet may have the back-to-school blues
Some common signs that Fido is having a hard time saying goodbye may be: urinating or defecating on the floors, constant barking or howling, chewing, digging, attempts to escape, and pacing back and forth. Does he cry from the time you leave in the morning until your return? Does he raid the garbage while you’re away? If so, your pet may have the back-to-school blues.
How to ease your pet’s back-to-school blues
Don’t worry, though. There may be a cure for little Fido’s separation anxiety. Begin by desensitizing him to your absence; leave him for short periods of time at first, then gradually increase the amount of time you are gone. Also, to prevent separation anxiety, don’t lavish him with attention when you are leaving and returning.
Give your pet a treat or a new toy when you leave in the mornings. This will help him associate your departure with something positive. My puppy loves when I stuff her Kong toy with yummy treats and freeze it. It gives her something to do for a long time!
When is it not the back-to-school blues?
Sometimes your dog’s behavioral issues are not caused by separation anxiety. He may just be chewing on the furniture and tearing through drywall because it’s a good time when you’re not there to scold him. To find out the issue, set up a camera and observe his body language when you leave. If you don’t have a video camera, just leave and quietly come back to look in the window. Does he seem happy and relaxed, or tense and upset?
Finally, have some patience. Don’t scold or punish your pet if it takes him a while to adjust. Punishing him will only cause more anxiety and make the problem worse. The back-to-school blues are normal for pets who are used to romping in the yard with their companions all day long. Just give him some time and plenty of love.
Separation Anxiety in Dogs