Some of us can hardly believe that the long days of summer are winding down. Chances are, your pet was right in the middle of your family gatherings and getaways, lapping up all the attention, head scratches, and fallen crumbs. Some pets might be ready for a little peace and quiet after an action-packed summer, but a back to school routine is essential for a pet accustomed to being the center of your world.
Most of us try hard to stick with the same routine that we strictly follow throughout the school year, but let’s face it, the summer months create so many more opportunities to be spontaneous, carefree, and easy going with our time. For your pet’s stability and comfort, it’s important to stick to what they know and rely on.
Their daily routine should stay pretty much the same regardless of the season. Stick to meal times, bathroom breaks, exercise opportunities, play times, and enrichment schedules. Their ability to anticipate certain events throughout the day adds to their comfort and calm.
If you aren’t able to meet their needs like you did during the summer, hire a pet sitter or dog walker, or schedule doggie daycare.
An essential approach to mitigating any stress or anxiety is to keep your pet busy. A tired pet is a happy one. Start the day out strong with an energetic run, a zippy game of laser chase, or a rousing game of fetch. When you and your family have to leave for school or work, they’ll be tuckered out from all the physical exercise. Without extra energy to burn off, a thoroughly exercised pet may not get into things that could get them into trouble.
An Active Brain
After several months of fun, spirited play, it can be hard for a pet to adjust to their new normal. Help them out by providing food puzzles, like a Kong filled with xylitol-free peanut butter, food maze, or other brain teaser with a tasty reward.
It may also help your pet to hear some music or white noise coming from the television or radio. Certainly not a substitute for the humans they love the most but this can provide a soothing distraction from the monotony or solitude.
You don’t want to reinforce any separation anxiety by making a huge deal when you come home. Try to be as neutral as possible when arriving instead of over-enthusiastically joining your pet in their happy dance.
Soon after you arrive, take them outside for a nice walk or run, invite them out to a dog park or hiking trail, or encourage them to join you in their catio space for some quality hang out time.
Again, reinforce the importance of their routine by sticking with a schedule of events that includes dinner, bathroom breaks, and snuggle time before bed.
Signs That More Is Needed
Pet separation anxiety is common, but it can be daunting to deal with. Pay close attention to your pet’s body language, behavior, and overall appearance for any changes. Please schedule a wellness exam to rule out medical conditions that cause similar symptoms of separation anxiety.