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Celebrating 30 Yearsof Service Back to School Tips for Your Pet Peter H. Eeg, BSc, DVM, CVLF

The hurried rush ofback-to-school and shorter days means families are spending more time focused on school work and active schedules. As a result, the change

in routine can be confusing for pets. Instead of going for walks andplaying in the yard, their companions suddenly head out the door without them.

i Dogs especially are creatures of habit, and itis important to establish clear rules and a set schedule. Here are some tips to help your pups be happy and well adjusted.

Avoid Anxiety. Changes in routine can also lead to anxiety in many dogs. Following some of these tips may help alleviate the stress caused by the changes that happen when it’s timeto go back to school,

Transition Time. About a week beforethe kids return to school, begin getting your dog used to their absence:

x Leave your dogs inside early in the morning to simulate school time. You only need to leave them for thirty minutes or so, Let them knowthe long, lazy summer mornings are coming to an end!

x Start getting out the lunchboxes and other items your dog associates with leaving for school in the morning, The idea is to desensitize them to any anxiety-producing cues prior to school starting.

Set a Routine and Responsibilities. Work with your children to set and followadaily routine that works for your family’s lifestyle all year long,

The schedule should include: Feeding; Walks to one spot for bathroom business; Walks around the neighborhood or at the park; Appropriate play at approximately the same time everyday.

Some routine ideas may include: Exercise and play in the morning before the kids Jeave the house; Extra attention and play when they get home from school;

Exercise and “family time” in the evening.

Establishing a routine your pets can depend on will help them deal with the changes. This not only ensures your pets get the attention and love they deserve, but will also help your children learn how to be responsible and caring pet owners.

Turn on Some Tunes, During the summer, the house is full of sounds! When the kids go back to school, manyof these sounds will suddenly be cut offfor the

majority of the day. Whenever your dog is left alone, the sound of human voices or music can besoothing. Try leaving slow(50 to 60 beats per minute) and relaxing music playing when the house is empty.

Enrich the at-Home Environment. When your pets’ favorite play buddy heads back to school, their day can suddenly feel very empty. Rotating a selection of toys helps yourdogarcat feel at home when he’s alone.

«   Leaving interesting and interactive toys and food puzzles out during the day helps your pets stay occupied. x Hide favorite pet treats around the house for your pet to discover while you are away.

« Rubber Kongs or hard hollow bones can be stuffed with a little peanut butter or cream cheese and can evenbe frozen for a long-lasting treat!

* Save a special toy that your pet really loves and have your children take it out just before they are readyto go out, Put it away again once the children come home soit remains the “special toy.”

Doggy Daycare, Consider letting your dog socialize and play at doggy daycare sume days while the house is empty. This will allow your dog to expend some energy, while being in good care and the company ofothers.

Quality Time. It is important to reconnect with your pet at the end of a busy week. With school back in session, your dog may not get as much time playing with your family as during the carefree days of summer, Remember that even though your pet wasn’t at work or school all day, hestill needs time to unwind.

Consider activities like: Long walks at the park; Lounging around onthe couch; Daily walks, even as the days get shorter; A weekend picnic; A weekend hike; A visit to a restaurant or establishment that allows dogs; A special weeknight brushing.

Getting back into the school mentality is never easyfor humans or dogs! Lt is a gradual process that requires patience and consistency. Considering the above lips will help all of your kids (the two- and four-legged ones) transition back into the school year smoothly.

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