• By Beth Oleson, Marketing Director

Beat the back to school blues

It’s that time of year again: it still feels like summer, but fall semesters are starting up all over the country and kids of all ages are heading back to school! Whether it’s a dreaded or exciting event for the folks in your family, it means big changes in your daily routine. It also means a lot of time alone for your pets after a few months of constant attention, and that can be a tough switch for a dog or cat to make. Summer vacations are bliss for a family pet, because both kids and parents are spending more time at home. In the hustle and bustle of a new school year, it’s easy to forget that your pets have become so accustomed to your presence that the sudden departure from their summer routine can leave them feeling lonely, bored or even abandoned. Changes in behavior often crop up around this time of year that can seem, on one end of the spectrum, like a lapse in training, or even an act of revenge – destructive chewing, potty accidents in the house or on your things, excessive barking and meowing – and on the other end of the spectrum, like a lack of interest in the usual joys of life – lethargy, inactivity or just plain old depression. This manifestation of separation anxiety doesn’t usually last long, but it’s just as important to help your pet through it as it is with more chronic cases. The key is to know what’s coming and start preparing your pet as early as possible for the change. Routine is important, so try to keep potty break and walk schedules as close to normal as possible, even though your schedule is on the move. It’s important to downplay departures and arrivals; it’s great to see a super-enthusiastic pet waiting to greet you when you come home, but by encouraging their behavior, you’re just reinforcing the idea that departures and arrivals are a big deal… or that they’re permanent. Little things like a shirt or blanket that smells like you can be enormously reassuring to a pet. And don’t get so tied up in school and work that you cut back your pet’s exercise time – physical activity keeps your pet feeling content and happy, and that’s especially important when your kitty or pooch might be feeling a little neglected. Buying a new toy just for departures doesn’t hurt, either – strange as it sounds, you want your pets to be just as happy to see you leave as they are to see you return. So head back to school or work this fall with the same gusto as always, but remember your pets, too. They may not be heading to college any time soon, but they’re still a part of the family and they miss you when you’re gone. Adopting a companion pet can also make a world of difference, so contact us at 859-873-5491 or manager@woodfordhumane.org to find out how to make your family a little furrier.

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