Going back to school can be a stressful time of year, and not just for the children. Yes, it can be stressful for the parents as well, but I'm talking about the unsung victims of this jarring shift. Can you guess who? (Keep in mind, this is a pet blog...)
That's right! Your pets! After having spent a whole summer with the added company of your children, having the house to themselves for the bulk of the day can lead to separation anxiety. There is no universal way pets exhibit separation anxiety; some pets get stressed out, some get depressed, and some go full-on bonkers. Depending on how your pet is acting, here are a few things you can do to help ease the transition.
1. Adhere to a routine
Dogs and cats are creatures of habit. A good way to create a new comforting routine is to make sure your kids stop at home after school every day and give your pets all the attention they have been missing. Have your kids take them for a walk, play with them in the living room, give them a treat and a belly rub -- anything to show your pet that, while your child may leave for a few hours, they will always come back ready to dole out love.
2. Keep it light
If your pets starts to get upset when they see you getting ready to leave, steel your heart against those weepy eyes. If you buckle and start petting them or saying how sad you are, you are only making things worse. Just say “good boy/girl,” and go out the door. Trust that, while they may whine for a few minutes, after a while they will get over it. And absolutely no treats! Treats at this time will only reinforce whining behavior.
While your pets are sad because they are left alone, they are also upset because they know that an empty house is boring. There is nobody to play with them! Get some toys to help occupy their time.
With nobody to play with, your pets are going to start feeling lazy unless they are given enough exercise to make up for all the downtime they are now experiencing. If they don’t, the can become lethargic, which can lead to depression. So remember, while you may be tired after a long day, your pet is probably just be beginning the active part of their day.
5. Hide treats
A neat trick to help keep your pet occupied throughout the day is hiding treats around the house. Like a tasty Easter egg hunt, your cat or dog will forget they are alone as they hunt for that last delicious treat.
6. Day care
If your pet is not showing any improvement after trying the less drastic items on the list, you might want to consider a pet day care. These are places where your pet will be in constant company, keeping them from feeling the home-alone blues.
7. Anxiety medication
For extreme cases, where there is no consoling your anxious pet, there are a number of anti-anxiety or antidepressant medications that can be given to your pet. While they are safe and capable of working miracles for pets that would otherwise be a nervous wreck, you should talk to your vet about the best option for your pet.
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