Class is in session!
It’s that time of year again, kids hauling bags full of books and fiddling with their uniforms as school resumes. It’s difficult to get back into the swing of things after 2-3 months of leisure time and freedom. We get so caught up in the hurricane of Back To School activity that our routine gets thrown all out of whack.
This is also true of your beloved furry friends. They can find the sudden break in routine to be strange or even distressing. This can lead to unwanted behaviours such as chewing furniture, excessive barking or even extra clinginess and separation anxiety.
As important as it is to ease kids back into the school (or even college!) routine, so too is it important for your dog.
There are several outlets and activities that can be implemented to help them regulate again and get back into a level routine at school time. One such method is to simply tire them out and change up their exercise routine. This may seem counterproductive, but with routines up in the air, it is actually the ideal time to implement some changes for the better.
Get into the habit of walking or exercising your dog before the kids leave for school. This can be as simple as throwing a ball around in the garden before breakfast or depending on the household dynamic and work load, taking turns to walk them before the house is upheaved. Stick to this routine to establish a good foundation to work on.
A lot of people feel guilt when they have to leave their dog at home even for short periods of time, even if it IS just 15 minutes to bring the kids to school. Alleviate that anxiety by giving your dog a special treat that keeps their mind (and mouth!) busy. LickiMats (we recommend the Slomo version) can be layered with wet food, tinned fish, or even peanut butter (make sure there is no Xylitol/Birch Sugar in the listed ingredients) and given to occupy them.
A slow feeder tray or bowl can also help with anxiety as it discourages dogs from gulping their food down in a hurry. Make it a part of your routine to give your dog a portion of their morning meal in a way that stimulates them and distracts them from your absence.
In some cases, natural remedies or mild chemical aids may be used, such as calming collars, PetRemedy sprays or calming tablets that contain Valerian, Vetiver and other relaxing essential oils such as lavender and chamomile. These essential oils can be diluted and used as a spray, or added when washing their bedding and others still can be found in capsule or powder supplement form to be added to meals. ALWAYS check with your vet before introducing new products to your dog’s routine.
With a bit of time and patience, soon everyone will be back to their regularly scheduled programme, much to most children’s chagrin!
Written by Peigí Conneff