It’s back-to-school time for you and your family. What does that mean for your dog?

dog looking out window

It’s back-to-school time for you and your family.  What does that mean for your dog?


This time of year can be tough.  Not only are your kids’ schedules changing, but your work hours may also increase as summer hours come to an end.  It’s stressful for all family members, including your dog.


After months of fun-filled days with their favorite playmates, some dogs may experience abandonment issues and struggle to adjust to no longer having you and your family with them 24/7.


Signs your dog is struggling.
Depression and anxiety are two signs your dog is having trouble coping with the new schedule and they may show their feelings in any of the following ways:

  • Not eating
  • Pacing
  • Barking
  • Whining
  • Howling
  • Chewing
  • Forgetting basic potty training


Keep in mind when school starts, if your dog spends the day alone, to them, their day may not start until you and/or your family are back home with them.  So here are some ways you can help your dog adjust.


Create a schedule specifically for your dog.
Keep in mind; morning is an energy-packed time in your dog’s day. After a good night’s sleep, they are ready, willing, and eager to go!  Walk and play with your dog as long as possible in the morning.   Afterward, they’ll probably want to nap for a while.


If no one’s going to be home until late afternoon or dinnertime, it’s a great idea to hire a dog walker or ask a retired neighbor for help. By providing your dog with a midday bathroom break, some exercise, and social interaction, he’ll be much happier, and more settled in the evening when the family’s back together.


Include your dog in school drop-offs and pick-ups.
If you walk or drive your children to and from the bus or school, bring your dog. It will help your pup adjust to seeing them leave.

It’s also a great way to enjoy a short family adventure before everyone leaves for the day, and your dog will learn to associate being with you on the walk or ride as a fun thing.


Plus, knowing they will also get to pick up the kids after school will give your dog something to look forward later in the day.


Ease departure drama.

Studies show anxiety can inadvertently be passed on to dogs.  They tend to mimic you and mirror stress levels.

And, if your dog suffers from separation anxiety, they will be more nervous if you act worried about leaving them.


So do your best to keep departure low-key, which will normalize this morning ritual for your dog.


Try calming background noise.

Your dog may find it comforting if the TV or radio is left on when they’re home alone.  Just hearing a human voice may be enough to help them not feel abandoned.


Another option is to play music. Dogs can find loud music aggravating, so consider playing classical music without lyrics to provide soothing background noise.


Your dog needs a social life, too.

Like humans, dogs need friends.  So, whether it’s with you, a dog walker, a neighbor, or even friends taking turns watching each other’s dogs, arrange playdates for them.


Break up your dog’s days with trips to a dog park or agility training classes (which we’ll be covering in a future blog post).


After even an hour or two, your dog will be happy to take a break, go home, and nap!


All of these provide terrific ways to help your dog learn socialization and coping skills.


Here’s the bottom line.

Put yourself in your dog’s place and understand what they’re feeling.  With patience and some creativity, both canine and human family members can and will survive this annual transition period.

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