This post is sponsored by CEVA Animal Health, makers of ADAPTIL® for dogs. All statements and opinions are entirely our own. As always, we only share products that we use with our own pets!
August means it’s time for back to school planning. Whether you have children in the house or not, a quick trip to the store reminds you that back to school season is fast approaching. For all the excitement of a new year ahead, new school supplies, and new friendships, the season also creates stress due to changes your family’s schedules.
I’m very lucky that John and I are able to work from home; our schedule doesn’t really change with the seasons. Years ago, before we began writing travel guidebooks, I taught high school (English and Economics) for a couple of years so our schedule would be in an uproar for a few weeks every August. Mornings that had been spent at home were suddenly spent preparing for work then I was out until nearly dinnertime. In looking back, I know it was a change that stressed our pets as much or more than it did me.
And, let’s face it: when we’re stressed, our dogs are stressed. Your dog may very well experience back to school stress from many sources:
- If you have children in your home, the change in their schedules can mean anxiety in your dog as playtime shifts to get ready for school time. If your children are nervous about their new schedule (or if you are), that stress can certainly be picked up by your dog.
- If your dog will suddenly be left alone during the school day, he can experience stress.
- If the sound of school buses, school bells ringing, or even children walking to school through your neighborhood can be heard from your home, that can create tension.
- If you’ll be taking your dog to doggie day care to keep him busy while everyone’s off to school, he might experience anxiousness in his new surroundings.
- If an older child is leaving for college, your dog may be stressed by the absence of a beloved family member.
Potential stress is part of life–but we can help give our dogs the tools to deal with it in a healthy way. Here are 5 tips to help your dog deal with back to school stress (and you just might find that they help the rest of the family, too!)
Ease into a New Schedule
The switch from home-all-day to gone-all-day can certainly lead to stress and separation anxiety in your dog. In the week leading up to school, begin to practice with longer and longer separations from your dog. This can be easy as you run back to school shopping errands but make sure every weekday includes some time away from your dog, gradually increasing the time you are away. Also, begin practicing the new dog walking times, potty break times, and meal times that you’ll need to use once that school bell rings.
Prepare Your Home
When everyone’s ready to leave for school, be sure your dog’s safe and comfortable, with plenty of water and interactive toys to challenge him while you’re away. Don’t forget to plug in an ADAPTIL® Calm Home Diffuser, the clinically-proven, veterinarian-recommended diffuser that copies the natural, canine-appeasing pheromone that dogs have known since birth. The diffuser won’t impact you (or cats in the household) but your dog will get calming reassurance that can help ward off separation anxiety.
Continue Your Routine
Our dogs thrive on routine–walking time, feeding time, play time, bed time. While these times might shift with the start of school, be sure to continue to incorporate each into your dog’s day, even if it means getting up extra early to squeeze in that dog walk! At the end of the day, unwind with the second dog walk of the day or a trip to the dog park. Your dog will come to adjust to the new schedule and will look forward to that routine just like he did your summer routine.
Consider Doggie Day Care or a Dog Walker
If you know that you just can’t keep up that dog walking routine–or if your dog needs a break throughout the day–dog walkers or dog day care are other options. Make those plans early (demand increases during back to school time). If you’re hiring a dog walker or taking him to day care, outfit your dog with an ADAPTIL® Calm On-The-Go Collar to keep him calm in his new situation. (If you are also using the ADAPTIL® Calm Home Diffuser in your home, it’s just fine for your dog to also wear the ADAPTIL® Calm On-The-Go Collar.) If you’ll be driving your dog to day care, ADAPTIL® Travel Spray is a great option to use in the car. Spray a Nuzzle Buddy, a favorite toy, or a doggie bandana; never spray it directly on your dog.
Just as if you were dropping a child off for the first day of school, it pays to stay calm and cool when leaving your dog on a school morning. Make your departure swift and non-dramatic; your arrivals should also be equally quiet. Your dog will learn that comings and goings are just part of the day!