The days grow shorter and the nights are cooler; September is a time of change for both dogs and their owners. With the kids back at school, our canine companions have to readjust. For many dogs, fall means "home alone", which brings boredom, anxiety and loneliness. Even when the kids are home, they don't have as much free time as they did during the leisurely summer days.
To help your dog through the transition, make sure his favorite toys are available when he's alone. To counteract his boredom, provide toys he's allowed to chew like kongs, dentabones and greenies. The benefit of a treat given as you leave the house lasts only as long as the treat itself. Put treats, peanut butter, or cottage cheese inside a kong toy so he'll have to work at getting the goodies. Set up a schedule that fits your lifestyle and stay with it so he'll begin to see that life is predictable again. Take him outside or walk him at the same time each day. Set aside certain times when his family "pack" can play with him. For example, ask the kids to play with him for a while every day after school and make sure he gets to be with you on weekends.
Most of all, cut your pup some slack. Dogs are pack animals; prolonged isolation can be painful. Consider enrolling him in The Doggie Den's playcare program at least a couple of days a week so he can play with his buddies and relieve the boredom.
If you don't help your pup through these first weeks of school, he may show difficult or destructive behaviors like jumping all over everyone who comes into the house, chewing on furniture or having accidents in the house. These behaviors aren't to "get back at you". Dogs don't think like that! They're just signs that he's anxious because things are changing.
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