After enjoying some extended family time during the summer, when your children go back to school some dogs can develop separation anxiety.
Changes in routine can have a real impact on your pet and can lead to stress and anxiety. This can lead to changes in your dog’s behaviour, which could include destruction of furniture, barking, urinating around the home, digging and scratching or whining when left alone.
Some owners may put this down to bad behaviour, but often these are common signs that your pet is anxious.
Korina Stephens RVN at Nutravet comments: “We love nothing more than spending as much time with our pets as possible. However, this can lead to them developing separation anxiety when kids return to school or their owners return to work.
“In the weeks leading up to the new school term, it’s important to gradually increase your dog’s time alone to help prepare them for the new routine. Although it’s important that dogs are not left alone for too long during the day, if they have to be left all day, be sure to ask a friend or family member to look in on them.
“Separation anxiety in dogs is common and usually a sign of boredom when left alone. However, if you notice any major changes in their behaviour consult your vet who is best placed to check for any underlying health issues and offer advice.”
To help reduce stress for dogs, Nutravet share their top tips for the back-to-school routine:
Prior to the new school term leave your dog alone for small periods of time. Start with small amounts (10 minutes) then increase the time each day to help them get used to being away from the family. You could leave them in one room of the home, while you are in another.
Try not to give your dog too much of a fuss when you leave them to help them get used to the new routine. When you return, give them praise and a treat to reward their good behaviour.
Leave toys to keep your dog distracted while you are away from the home. Toys filled with treats can keep them occupied but be careful not to leave anything too small that could be chewed or swallowed.
Make sure your dog has had enough exercise before you leave the house. If you are going to be leaving them for a number of hours, take them for a long walk before doing so. This will help to get rid of excess energy and they may sleep whilst you’re out.
If your dog has to be left at home alone all day, consider using a dog sitter or ask a friend to check in on them, and spend some time with your pet while you are out. This will also give your dog the chance to go to the toilet to prevent any toilet mishaps in the home.
Pet proof your home
If you don’t want your dog to have the run of the house whilst you are out, be sure to close doors and block off areas you don’t want them to go. Check the area/room they will be in for any hazards to be sure they are safe whilst on their own. Using a stair gate is a handy way to stop your dog from going into rooms off limits and up the stairs.
If your dog can get distracted by outside noise or you live on a busy road, close the curtains to reduce any distractions which might make them anxious and bark for prolonged periods. Playing music can also help to drown out unwanted external sounds.
Create a safe zone or den for your dog to retreat to if they are feeling extra anxious. You could leave a jumper or t-shirt with your smell on for your dog, which is familiar to them. This will help to comfort them while you are gone.
Don’t punish bad behaviour
If your dog has misbehaved whilst you are out and caused damage or toileted in the house, don’t discipline them on your return as this could cause further anxiety. It could also lead to your dog worrying about your return home.
Ask your vet about nutracalm
Nutracalm is a fast-acting natural calming supplement for dogs and cats. It has been developed to help stressed and fretful pets fast, without any sedative effect. Nutracalm is available to buy over the counter at thousands of authorised veterinary practices throughout the UK & Ireland.
For more top tips visit www.nutravet.co.uk