Everyone struggles with saying so long to summer. If you were on vacation from work, or your children were home from school, then your pets likely enjoyed more attention and exercise during the summer months. Now that you’ve returned to your normal schedule, dogs and cats are left wondering “why the sudden change?” – and that can make a pet feel stressed.
Dogs and cats thrive on routine. What may seem like a small change to you can feel like a very big change for your pets. Without the routine stimulation they’ve grown accustomed to, pets may act out of boredom or stress by barking, scratching furniture, getting into the trash, house soiling, or being generally destructive.
The best thing to do for your pet is to avoid abrupt change and work them into their new routine in the time leading up to the school year with short periods of separation that gradually become longer. Rely on the following tips to help prevent behavior problems and maintain the health and happiness of your pet while you’re away.
- Give your pet a special treat every time you leave to help them develop positive associations with being alone.
- Keep your departures and returns quiet and low-key so as not to arouse any alarm unduly.
- Leave a familiar blanket or one of your T-shirts with your pet. Your smell will help soothe them.
- Ask your kids to spend quality time with the family pet after school – a walk around the block, or a game of fetch in the yard.
- Puzzle treats entertain longer – Keep them stimulated with physical and mental workouts. Hiding treats around the home can keep a dog or cat busy for hours. Stuffed Kongs are also great entertainment for dogs and cats love to find a paper bag lying open on the floor (sprinkle cat nip inside)!
- Consider hiring an occasional dog walker, pet sitter or a doggie-daycare a few times a week to break up their day. This can help alleviate boredom and provide your pet with exercise.
- Don’t scold or punish your pet for bad behavior when you come home. It may make your pet more anxious and make situations worse.
- Try to avoid making additional changes if you can help it – don’t change their diet at this time for example. Keep exercise consistent and set aside a designated time each evening to give your pet one on one attention.
Remember, they are a part of the family, too, and need your love and attention as their human siblings head back-to-school.