When getting ready to go back to school, the focus often is on the effect it all has on parents and childcare schedules. But what about the family dog? Your dog may experience some separation anxiety as the family moves towards school-related activities that pull you and your kids away from home.

Here are some suggestions to help you and your dog adjust to back to school time:

Cure boredom

Help dogs entertain themselves by scattering food, such as bits of raw vegetables or dog kibble, or use high-quality, virtually indestructible toys. Introduce interactive treat dispensing toys for your dog such as Busy Buddy Twist ‘N Treat, Buster FoodCube, Nylabone Crazy Balls, or Kongs stuffed with peanut butter or some other favorite treat and then hide them (but easy to find) around the living room or other canine approved play area to give your dog hours of enjoyment and mental stimulation. A busy dog is not a destructive dog.

Reduce stress, separation anxiety

Start now to get your dog used to being alone by separating your dog from the family for short periods.

Practice leaving the house. Go through the motions of leaving the house, go out the door, but then come right back in again. The dog will cease associating the routine of your leaving the house with your departure. This will help him to be more relaxed when you actually leave.

Take your dog for long morning walks to get him/her plenty of exercise.

Spend quality time with your dog when you are at home; include him/her in family activities ensuring your canine is still an important part of the family.

Overexcited after being alone

After being alone, dogs might be more aggressive than usual. Parents should encourage children to avoid immediately going into the dog’s area, instead leaving them alone for five to 10 minutes, to allow the dog to settle down.

Ask your vet or dog trainer for information on separation anxiety and crate training.

Give your dog plenty of attention and time to adjust to the family being away more during the day.

Doggie daycare is an option for your pet to make friends and have a fun-filled day of romping and playing. All dogs go home tired and usually sleep the rest of the evening.

Since dogs become very attached to their “humans,” especially loving children, here are some reminders to keep your dog safe as your kids head back to school:

• A dog who accompanies your child to the bus stop may wonder further from home than intended. To keep your dog from becoming lost, have him and your child say goodbye at the door, rather than the bus stop. And then keep your dog securely inside to avoid his urge to follow your child down the street.

• Kids tend to flock together after school for fun and games. Strange children and excitement could cause your dog to nip or bite. Be sure to make proper introductions and to provide instructions on interacting with your dog.

• Remember to give your pets extra attention when the kids go back to school. They are our furry four-legged children.

Malinda Malone is the owner of Malinda’s Pampered Pets in Ahwatukee Foothills, 4302 E. Ray Road. Contact her at (480) 753-5766, malindaspamperedpets@gmail.com or www.malindaspamperedpets.com.

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