As the summer light fades into fall, pets across the country are adjusting to new routines as their family members go back to work or school. What were once carefree days cruising around the park or swimming in the creek are now spent sitting by the front door waiting for busy pet parents to come home.
But what if your pet doesn’t adjust peacefully to this new reality? It’s not an uncommon problem—after all, cats and dogs are particularly vulnerable to any change in their schedules, and they thrive on stimulation. With nothing to do, pets are forced to find ways to entertain themselves, which may include excessive barking or meowing, gnawing on shoes, raiding the garbage, eating houseplants and scratching furniture.
Here are some common signs that your pet may be having a hard time saying goodbye to summer:
- Urinating and defecating in the house
- Incessant barking and howling
- Chewing and digging
- Attempting to escape the house or yard
- Pacing without pause
But all is not lost! Behaviorists have some great advice for keeping your pet’s “back-to-school blues” at bay.
- Start small by desensitizing your pooch to the cause of his anxiety. Introduce several short periods of separation, and then gradually increase time spent apart.
- Help your dog associate being alone with something good such as a tasty treat. Every time you leave the house, give your dog a food-dispensing toy to keep him busy.
- Please don’t scold your dog if he doesn’t adjust quickly. If you punish him, he may become more upset and the problem could get worse.
- Be patient, and work with your pet until he feels comfortable and enjoys spending time alone.