Back-to-school season is a stressful time not just for humans but for pets as well. Parents and children begin to adjust to a new routine. This could be a difficult time for your pets that are used to having you around as their companion in everything they do.
Dogs and cats are social creatures which grow well on stimulation and become vulnerable to sudden change of their schedules. They will do anything to get your attention like barking or meowing a lot, ransacking the garage, scratching the sofa and eating your mom’s plants. These are their ways of saying they need you.
If you notice your pets are acting strangely or different from their usual behavior, it could be a sign that they are having a hard time adjusting to the family’s new schedule. Leaving your dog’s alone can upset him while your cat might have separation anxiety.
Some of the signs of anxiety that your dog might show are scratching and digging trying to escape, destructive chewing, change in mood and a lapse in potty training. The major change to the family routine during school season can trigger anxiety. Also, if you leave them home alone after having a constant human companion for months can likewise cause them to have the disorder.
Cats who have experienced a history of abandonment, being passed between different owners, trauma, or abuse are also at risk of having a separation anxiety during the school season. Kittens that have a special bond with your child, may most likely to experience this disorder once the child goes to school. Some of the common signs of separation anxiety to cats include trembling, hiding and trying to escape, change in mood, withdrawing, an upset stomach that leads to diarrhea and loss of appetite.
There are 7 ways that you can do to calm your pets as they go through the transition. You need to prepare them for the upcoming school season.
1. Prepare them for the new schedule
ASPCA or The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals suggests that you prepare your pets one to two weeks before the school season starts. You can start with short absences, so they become comfortable each time you leave the house. Then slowly increase the length of absences during the weeks until the school season arrives.
Pets, particularly the dogs may take their emotional cues from their parents, so it is important to stay calm and not to make a big fuss about leaving or saying goodbye. Do not forget also to consider crate training. This is done gradually, so your pets will have more time to adapt to the idea.
2. Keep them busy
Give your pets something that will keep their mouth and bodies busy. Practice this technique every day. With this strategy, your pets will not depend on you to feel fine and develop some coping techniques.
3. Give them access to social areas while you are out
Your pets, particularly dogs would try to escape and try to find you or your scent. Let them get through areas where they can feel your presence even if you are not there. Maybe you can spray your perfume in the area so they can smell you.
4. Do not leave them empty-handed
Make sure that you put enough food on their tray each time you leave the house. This will help them develop a positive attitude about being alone. You can put a rubber toy on their stuff to provide stimulation.
5. Spend a few minutes with your pets before you leave
If you have extra time in the morning before you bring the kids to school, you can spend some time with your pets. You can take your dog for a walk in the backyard or engage with them in a game of fetch.
For your pet cats, you can multi-task. As you sip your coffee, you can play with your cat with a laser toy or other toys in the other hand. This will be enough for them to enjoy the day and they will not even notice that you have left them alone.
6. Move your cat’s tree near a window
Position your cat’s tree near the window where he can view the people passing by and the garden or street. This will make him feel that he is not alone. He can still see people moving around.
7. Let the kids play with them when they get home
Tell your kids to play with their pets every time they get home from school. This will make them really happy and lessen the feeling of being left out. Your children can also have their pets beside them as they do their homework. If you do this every day, your pets can adapt to the new routine easily. They would not mind being alone for some time since they will be looking forward to the time you will arrive as they will get their treat.
School season is probably the most awaited time of many kids but not for cats and dogs. For them, it is the time for them to be alone and neglected. But if you will be able to let them feel that they are not being left out, they too will enjoy the upcoming school season.
If you think your pet is suffering from a severe case of separation anxiety, it is time for you to ask the help of a professional and help them feel better. Be observant and keep an eye on their symptoms. If they are getting worst or does not improve at all, it is time for you to bring them to your veterinarian to dismiss any other health problems that might be causing the symptoms.
About the Author:
Sarah Keene is the founder of Themeowthing where she writes about the various cat breeds, kitty pet care & health advice, training tips, reviews of cat products, and any other issues that you might love to know about cats.