Back-to-School Ready? What About Rover?

Mary Simpson
by Mary Simpson
Photo Credit: Olha Tsiplyar/

Summer was a blast for the entire family! Road trips that led to the great outdoors, camping, long hikes, plus those backyard barbecues that brought everyone together. But now that it’s over and time to mark the start of another school year, the transition can be particularly hard on one member of the family you may not have considered. Yes, that four-legged kid who was always included in those fun activities and is now left behind to fill time on his own.

Not only does your dog miss the kids but also the physical outlet that came from non-stop running, chasing balls and active playtime. Then there was the mental stimulation from all those new experiences and that important one-on-one interaction he enjoyed when hanging with his human pack.

Whether your pooch is a new member of your family or a long-time “sibling” to your kids, the sudden change to a busy social calendar that once filled his summer months can be a difficult adjustment. And one that can result in naughty behaviors as he tries to let you know he ain’t loving this new routine.

What to do? There are steps you can take to lessen separation anxiety and help ease your pooch into this new family pattern.

Late August can be a great time to start extending your dog’s alone time. Heading out for one to two hours (and eventually longer periods) without poochie helps him get used to being on his own. And while it will probably break your heart just a little to exclude him from fun time, bringing him home a treat or toy may ease your guilt.

Blink... and just like that we’re into September! If you didn't have the chance to transition him into this new school year, your little buddy may be exhibiting some of those aforementioned naughty behaviors. Chewing, urinating, or incessant barking while you’re out of the house aren't uncommon.

Fret not because there are still some basic steps you can take to help curb his anxiety and preserve your floors (and sanity)!

For young or high-energy pooches, consider a doggy daycare or dog walker once a day. Aside from the human interaction, a long walk can help cover off that sudden drop in activity levels your pet is now experiencing. It helps establish a routine, keep him mentally stimulated, and tire him out before you get home.

For older or physically challenged pets, keep them preoccupied throughout the day with puzzle toys and snuffle mats. Working to release hidden treats not only challenges him mentally but satisfies a dog’s natural instinct to root around and dig. It will also help take his mind off being on his own.

And lastly, there is a range of virtual home assistants such as Amazon's Alexa or Apple’s Siri that play music geared specifically to the dog population. Low, soothing tones break up the silence he’s experiencing and sound helps mimic what a busy household feels like when his peeps are around. 

Mary Simpson
Mary Simpson

Sharing space with three seriously judgy Schnoodles and a feline who prefers to be left alone. #LivingMyBestLife

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