Has your dog been acting particularly mopey lately? Has she suddenly regressed to her puppy days and started relieving herself on the living room rug? Has your formally well-behaved best friend recently started driving you crazy with incessant barking, howling and digging?
What about your cat? Is he wandering around the house meowing a lot for no apparent reason? Clawing the furniture? Eating your houseplants?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, perhaps your pet is suffering from separation anxiety. Now that the kids are back in school, your four-legged family members may be feeling a little sad and stressed, missing all the attention received during those glorious summer months.
Dogs and cats, just like people, are creatures of habit. And animal experts from the ASPCA say that when the kids go back to school and the house gets quiet, they can suffer some anxiety while adjusting to the new routine. And an anxious and lonely pet can be a loud and destructive pet.
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.
Of course, you can’t keep the kids home just to spare your pet’s feelings. But there are some things you can do to ease the pain of being left behind.
While it’s too late to try easing them back onto the school routine, ASPCA animal experts suggest making the mass exodus more appealing by handing out treats as you leave the house. This will help your pet feel more positive about being left alone. For a dog, they suggest stuffing that treat into one of those Kong rubber toys so it takes some time and energy to get to the reward.
But whatever you do, resist the urge to scold and punish. This will only make things worse and probably make you feel guilty in the process. And if you can’t seem to get a handle on your pet’s behavior, check out the ASPCA’s Virtual Pet Behaviorist page where you will find symptoms and solutions for pet separation anxiety.
Because I work at home, my pets are rarely left alone for long periods of time. But since school started, my dog spends a good part of the day looking out the window and whining. Are your pets suffering from the back-to-school blues?
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