Summer has drawn to an end, and kids are heading back to school. Your pet may not understand why all of the humans could possibly want to leave them during the day, leaving an empty house. The change in schedule and lack of company for hours on end could cause separation anxiety in your pet. It’s something that can be mistaken for other issues, like when your dog is acting out through inappropriate elimination, and it’s chalked up to a urinary tract infection.

Separation anxiety is a frustrating condition for pets and owners, especially when the kids go back to school and leave the house empty. Here are three tips to help manage your pet’s back-to-school blues.

Practice peaceful greetings and goodbyes

We love our pets and treat them like family members. Showering them with love and attention, especially during greetings and goodbyes, demonstrates that bond, but the heightened emotions when you walk through the door can increase your pet’s anxiety. Instead, stay calm. Simply walk out the door when you leave, tossing your pet her favorite distraction. When you return, be tough and ignore your pet until she’s calm. Reward her with a pat once she’s sitting quietly on the floor. Ditch the high-pitched baby talk, and the exuberant hugs and help your pet relax.

Divert with distractions

Distract your pet from an empty home and keep her mind off her loneliness and on the fun she’s having without you, by adding a variety of objects to her routine, such as:

  • Interactive toys
  • Food or treat puzzles
  • Long-lasting chews

With separation anxiety, your pet experiences a brief burst of fear immediately following your departure—usually within the first 20 to 30 minutes of her being alone—so use a treat or toy to occupy her mind during this period.

Assert independence

Nothing warms your heart more than a pup who follows you as closely as your shadow. That tight attachment may be adorable, but it doesn’t help your pet build confidence and learn to be content while alone. To expand your pet’s independence, start slowly. Distract her with a treat placed on the opposite side of the room, and gradually increase the distance between you. Keep adding distance until your pet can relax in a room without you.

Concerned about how your furry family member is coping with separation anxiety? Contact us.