In August and September, as the kids head back to school, did you consider that your dog may have to adjust to the changes in the family routine just like everyone else? During the summer, your children and the family dog can develop a strong bond. Now there’s suddenly an empty and quiet house. This change in routine can cause your dog to suffer from separation anxiety or depression—to actually miss your kids—and even follow them to school.
Signs of Separation Anxiety
Your dog may experience the effects of the loss of extra playtime and the friendship developed with your children by exhibiting signs of separation through destructive behaviors such as:
- Chewing furniture
- Ripping the stuffing out of pillows
- Shredding paper
- Obsessive barking/whining for extended periods of time
- House soiling
Separation anxiety is a serious condition that can be managed with structure and patience. NEVER punish your dog for exhibiting this behavior, as it will make him more fearful and potentially aggressive.
Tips to manage anxiety:
- Start with leaving your dog at home for very short periods of time to get him used to being alone
- Avoid emotional departures and greetings
- Have your belongings prepared so that your departure from home is calm
- Consider doggie daycare for prolonged absences
- Teach the kids to avoid over stimulating the dog with departures and arrivals
- Exercising your dog before leaving the house in the morning is a good idea so he’ll be relaxed when you return and be set for when you’re away.
- Leave some sturdy, interactive toys for your dog to help keep him from being bored.
Be sure to check with your veterinarian to have your dog fully evaluated and correctly diagnosed before trying to manage the symptoms. There may be an underlying medical condition that may be misconstrued as separation anxiety.