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Help Your Dog Get Through the First Days of School Without You

Christopher Furlong, Getty Images

As most any dog owner knows, dogs are creatures of habit and can become quite upset if there are sudden changes to regular routines. This includes the return of family members to school. To help your dog make the transition less stressfull Dr. Robert Reich of Animal Medical Clinics recommends the following:

  • Begin what will be the new ‘back to school’ daily routine a week or two before school begins to allow your dog to become acclimated to different feeding times, walk times, and times when family members will not be home. “Starting early with the change in routine can help eliminate some of the anxiety your dog feels when your children go back to school,” says Dr. Reich. “It may also help in avoiding some problem behaviors like messing in the house, chewing, barking or just general protesting the daily schedule changes,” he adds.
  • Another suggestion is to give a special toy or treat only when the children are away from home at school, and putting it away when they come home. “This is a great way to help your dog associate them being gone as a not negative thing,” recommends Dr. Reich.

Dr. Reich cautions to keep backpacks and lunch boxes out of the reach of pets as they may be tempted to chew on them or try to retrieve any food or snacks that may be inside them.

Also, if your dog is a mostly outside pet, remember that there may be more children out in the area where your dog can see and/or hear them. Ensure that your dog doesn’t try to get loose or that children heading to/from school are not coming to ‘visit’ your dog, especially if your dog is not used to having lots of children around.

Last but by no means least, be aware of the school bus stop and the possibility of your dog attempting to take off toward the bus to try to go to school.

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