There could be tears from more family members than just the kids when it’s time to go back to school. Pets go through an adjustment to a changed routine as well, and an active holiday period with lots of company and fun followed by long and relatively empty days can be challenging for your pets. There are a number of things you can do however, to help take the edge off your pet’s loneliness and boredom.
If no one is at home throughout the day, you may want to consider hiring a dog walker to give them some exercise or play with them for a hour during the day. If your budget won’t stretch to professional walkers, older students could be a good option.
Doggy Daycare centres are a good way to get your dog socialising and it helps to tire them out so that they’re more relaxed (and sleepy) when they’re back home. A half or full day a couple of times a week while everyone is at school or work, could be just the thing break to an otherwise monotonous routine for your pooch.
Use any trips you make during the day as an opportunity to get your dog out of the house. If you’re running errands or dropping the kids at school, let your dog come if he enjoys car rides. Just remember to never leave a dog unattended in a car.
Getting a buddy for your pet may seem like adding to the workload and doubling the need for entertainment, but getting another animal can actually help. They keep each other company and help improve their social skills.
One of the easiest and least expensive options is toys. There are a number of interactive toys to engage your pet including some that dispense food with a bit of work and skill. A good toy can keep them entertained for ages, and they appeal to the curious natures of most dogs and cats. We offer a range of great interactive toys in our online store.
Like us, pets thrive when they are mentally stimulated therefore you can address some of those manners that need some polish as well as entertain your pet by enrolling them in behavior classes. A class that coincides with the start of the kids’ school could be the perfect transition, especially when the kids aren’t at home to encourage some of the less desirable behaviours!
There’s a chance that your dog might suffer separation anxiety, and common a complaint of pet owners is that their dogs can be destructive and disruptive when left at home alone. Signs that this could be an issue for your dog include chewing, excessive barking or whining, urinating or defecating in inappropriate places, digging, or trying to escape.
Sometimes these issues can be resolved with standard behaviour training, but it’s also important to firstly rule out medical issues that could lead, for example, to incontinence. If the issues are as a result of separation anxiety however, they’ll need special attention and patience as it’s a serious condition.
When disruptive and destructive behaviours are accompanied by others, such as drooling and anxiety when you’re preparing to leave the house, they’re indicative of separation anxiety. It is triggered by dogs being separated from the people to whom they’re the most attached, and the issue can occur when there is a change of schedule such as the home being suddenly empty after a holiday period when everyone has been there with them.
One of the significant risks associated with the condition is escapes during which they can injure themselves regardless of whether their attempt is successful of not. If your dog is exhibiting signs of separation anxiety be careful to make sure that the area in which they’re confined is safe and secure. Aside from exit points such as doors and windows, attempts to escape by digging under a fence or trying to get over or through one, can cause significant harm. The stressed state of an animal trying to escape under these circumstances can exacerbate the risks.
Separation anxiety behaviour can manifest in numerous ways, including animals becoming anxious when it becomes apparent that their owner is preparing to leave, or trying to prevent them from leaving. In some cases, the animal may exhibit signs of anxiety or depression before the owner has left.
It’s a serious condition that requires patience and it’s important to never punish a dog for exhibiting this behavior as it will only make things worse. The key to successfully treating a dog with separation anxiety is to address the underlying issue by teaching them to tolerate being left alone. The technique involves creating situations where the animal is left alone but doesn’t become anxious or fearful. This can be achieved with conditioning, and one of the ways is to provide the animal with a treat such as food when it is left alone. Over time they will associate being left alone with good things. Delaying the reward until after they’re left alone is ideal and interactive toys that dispense treats can be useful.
Try not to leave your pet at home for long periods, and avoid emotional departures and greetings. Exercise them before you leave, and try avoid getting them overexcited when you return. Dogs with severe separation anxiety may require more complex treatment which involves a desensitisation and counter-conditioning plan. Under these circumstances we would recommend consultation with a qualified animal behaviourist.
If you have any questions about integrating a new pet into your home or issues regarding their health or behaviour, don’t hesitate to give us a call or drop by at any of the Vets4Pets hospitals. We’re here to help, and your pet’s emotional health is just as important as their physical health.