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Kids returning to school? How your dog may feel about it.

As Summer draws to a close, the anticipation of kids returning to school can be an overwhelming thing for both parents and children. However, amid the hustle and bustle of preparing for a new school year, one family member often goes unnoticed – the beloved family dog. While children may eagerly anticipate reuniting with friends and embarking on new adventures, that transition can be a source of stress and anxiety for man's best friend. In this article, we will explore the reasons why kids returning to school in the fall can really be quite stressful for the family dog.

Firstly, dogs are highly social animals that form strong bonds with their human family members. After spending a summer filled with constant companionship and playtime, suddenly being left alone for longer stretches of time can be distressing for them. Separation anxiety can manifest at this time with behaviors such as excessive barking, destructive chewing, and even soiling the house due to the sudden changes. The abrupt absence of children can lead to feelings of loneliness and confusion for the family dog. This is something that not a lot of people seem to consider, but lots of family dogs do experience loneliness when the kids return to school.

Dogs thrive on routine and predictability. When kids go back to school, the family's daily routine undergoes significant changes. The dog's schedule is disrupted, with less playtime, walks, and attention during the day. This sudden shift in routine can leave dogs feeling disoriented and out of sync, which contributes to stress and anxiety.

Another thing to consider is a lack of mental stimulation and enrichment since the kids are not home. During the summer months, kids are often available to engage in interactive play and provide lots of mental stimulation for the family dog. In contrast, when they return to school, the dog's mental and physical stimulation may decrease significantly. Without proper mental exercise and enrichment, dogs may become bored, leading to increased behavioral issues. This lack of mental stimulation and frequent enrichment can also exacerbate a dog’s stress.

Along the lines of mental stimulation, there is also physical activity to consider. With kids returning to school, the family dog may also experience a decrease in physical exercise. Regular walks, outdoor playtime, and other physical activities may become more limited due to the family's now busier schedule. Insufficient exercise can lead to pent-up energy, restlessness, and behavioral problems as well. A sudden decrease in physical activity can really increase stress for a dog.

Lastly, when children are at home during the summer, the household dynamics naturally shift. There is a constant buzz of activity, laughter, and play. However, when kids return to school, the house becomes quieter, and the dog may really feel that absence. The sudden change in energy can be disconcerting for the family dog, leading to feelings of loneliness and confusion.

While not all dogs experience this, there are plenty that do. The return of children to school is an exciting time for the family but it is crucial to recognize the potential stress it can cause for our much-loved dogs. Understanding the reasons behind their anxiety can help us take appropriate measures to alleviate some of their stress. By implementing strategies like gradually adjusting their routine, providing additional mental stimulation and enrichment, ensuring regular exercise, and even considering the use of calming aids, we can help our family dogs navigate this transition period with ease and minimize their stress levels.

Fall is a great time for some one-on-one training - this alone can help to combat stress for your dog . By giving them new tasks, whether life skills or tricks, it may help to fill in some of the emptiness that the kids being away all day has left. UpSwing Canine Behavioral Services can help you and your dog through this time of change.

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