I never thought my best buddy would turn into such a little trouble maker. I’ve had my dog Riley for seven years. He was my first baby. And while he still travels with us on car rides and visits to my moms, the amount of one-on-one time we used to have just isn’t there right now.
I’m so busy with my three little kids that if I eat lunch and shower at some point, it’s been a successful day.
Now, that my oldest is five, she’s involved in more activities and is going to school more often. And that schedule is not sitting well with Riley. His separation anxiety has amped up and he is making messes whenever we leave the house.
His go-to shenanigan has been opening the cabinet under the sink (don’t ask me how his little paws can do this?!), knocking the trash over and pulling everything in it out, on to the floor.
This daily occurrence has been a blast to deal with after coming home school drop off, music class or soccer.
I’ve actually now started to put the trash in a higher place when we leave the house, but that isn’t exactly solving the problem. I need to figure out a long time fix.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Kurt Venator from Purina about Riley’s new behavior, and he had some really helpful advice on how to handle the situation.
Dogs are creatures of habit and Dr. Kurt said it’s not uncommon for our pets to act out when there’s a new family schedule.
Dogs like to feel part of the pack, and if that gets disrupted, so does their behavior.
He said 20% of all dogs suffer from separation anxiety. And 29-50% of senior dogs suffer from it.
Here are some signs that your back-to-school schedule isn’t jiving with your pet:
- Improper urination
- Excessive barking (their way of expressing loneliness and sadness)
- Excessive chewing
- Nervous pacing
My dog has been barking at the door each time we leave the house. He never used to do this, but it seems like it’s his way of saying “hey, what about me?”
Dr. Kurt told me there are some activities I can do with Riley as he adjusts to our new schedule.
“I’m a huge fan of exercise any time there’s a behavioral problem,” Dr. Kurt said. “A tired dog is a good dog.”
6 ways to help your pet adjust to the new back-to-school schedule
- Increase the exercise. A good walk in the morning, mid day and after dinner can help burn off the energy. Remember to have someone play with the dog every day.
- Distraction. This new schedule is a great time to give your furry friend a new toy. By giving your dog a new chew toy, like a Kong, it eliminates what they can get in to because they will be preoccupied.
- Leave the radio on while you’re gone. It may sound silly initially, but when you have a busy household, leaving it completely quiet may make your pet anxious. By providing noise, it could help their comfort level when alone.
- Teach your dog a new trick. Dr. Kurt said dogs love to learn new things and when you challenge a dog’s brain to learn something new, it guides their energy in a different way.
- Switch out toys for a new stimulus. I switch out my children’s toys so they aren’t bored, I can’t believe I never thought to do it with my dog!
“Stick to a daily schedule as much as you can. It may take a few weeks. Once they get the schedule, it’ll help them adjust,” Dr. Kurt said.
One of the most important things you can do for your dog, is acknowledge their presence.
“Just let them enjoy you being home. Let them know there’s love there and it slows us down,” Dr. Kurt continued.
And that’s one of the things I’m making a conscious effort to do with Riley. He needs attention, too.
We’ve been bonding at the end of the day when the kids are asleep and he gets to be king. It may not be just like how it used to be, but, it’s a nice way to end a busy day.
For more information, please visit www.petcentric.com.
Disclosure: Today’s conversation is sponsored by Purina. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about the Purina Back to School program. As always, I only share information that I feel Mod Mommy readers will find useful.