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Back to School + Dog Separation Anxiety

SitStay Blog Back to School + Dog Separation Anxiety

During the dog days of summer keeping your family pup showered in attention is pretty easy. At summer's end, however, problems with canine separation anxiety can show up once the children return to school. Of course, it is normal for a dog to miss his family, but when his or her distress is excessive and causing problems it needs to be addressed. You will often be able to recognize separation anxiety as distinct from other isolation related issues when it is tied to a specific person such as a son or spouse. 

So now that you are sure your dog suffers from separation anxiety, whats next? This form of anxiety has many forms of treatment that include:

  • Routine modification and desensitization
  • Calming products
  • Prescription medications as a last resort
  • Distractions and alternative companions
  • Doggy day care

The most common suggestion for moderate separation anxiety is to desensitize dogs to the leaving routine which builds up so much stress. Performing your usual pre-leaving actions repeatedly throughout the day and simply not leaving can help dogs without severe anxiety levels. This is more difficult with children, and convincing kids to do the time for school routine is not as easy as it is with adults. Many people add another pet to their household to keep their distressed dog down. This does not always work and simply adding another pet into the mix can cause him or her to become the target for the sufferer's frustrations.

Calming products show a great deal of success with many dogs. Often these come in the form of sprays or as edible calming treats such as these. For other dogs, pressure point based calming vests prove more effective. These vests give a snug, reassuring fit that naturally provides comfort and reduces anxiety. All of these options are much safer and healthier for your dog than prescription sedatives, which are often only prescribed in the worst cases. Try to avoid day-long crating to prevent stress behaviors as it frequently amplifies them, unless your dog finds comfort in their den-like crate.

Separation anxiety can strike at any time and the longer it is left unaddressed the worse it can become. Back to school time can be a major stressor for anxiety-prone dogs that got used to never leaving a child's side. Consider natural calming products or doggy daycare when all else fails to keep your canine's distress to a minimum. Remember a happy dog is a healthy dog.

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