written by Marissa Greenberg, DVM

It ™s back-to-school time, and you may not think so, but this can affect your dog too!  You and your family may have spent more time at home with your critters throughout the summer.  But with school starting, your dogs might be missing their playmates!  There are a few things you can do to ensure that your dogs handle this transition well.

1)   Start leaving your dog at home a little more often to get them used to more alone time.   Make sure that you don ™t make a big commotion about your leaving or your coming home, and wait to greet your dog until he is over the excitement of your presence.  This can help decrease his anxiety about your coming and going.

2)   Consider leaving music on for background noise if you will be gone all day.

3)   Leave your dog with something to keep him occupied- interactive toys that you can stuff with some food can help keep him busy for a while.  An example would be a Kong Toy.  Try stuffing with some treats and some peanut butter and then freezing it, this will help it to take just a little longer to get all the good stuff out of it!

4)   If you are going to be gone long periods of time, consider using a crate.  Leaving piddle pads out isn ™t a good idea-these teach your dog that it is ok to go to the bathroom in the house!

5)   Make sure your dog still gets as much exercise as possible.  Start a routine that includes exercise before and after school/work, and schedule in extra time to play ball, go to the beach, or go on a hike.  If your dog won ™t be able to get as much exercise as he did during the summer, then it ™s a good idea to cut back on his food a bit so that he doesn ™t gain weight.

6)   Quality time with your dog will help them to handle your absence better.  Consider taking your dog back to school-enroll in obedience classes, agility classes, or other fun dog sports!  Visit http://www.canineacademy.org/ or  http://gentlepets.com/ to learn more about different classes in our area that are fun for you and your dog!  Also consider doing therapy work with your dog-visit https://petpartners.org/ for more information.  SLODOG is a local group that can be a good way to get out and involved with dog activities. Check out their website http://slodog.com/slodog.com/about_SLODOG.html.

If you have any other ideas for ways to help your dog transition back-to-school, we ™d love to hear them!  And if you have any problems during this time, we are here to help you.