Does my dog suffer from separation anxiety now that school is in session?

September 12, 2017 at 9:00 AM by Nikki Wardle

Pet Anxiety and doggie day care

The weather is beginning to turn, the leaves are starting to yellow, and school buses are lining up to take kids back to the classroom. As school starts back up and the unstructured, fun days of summer end, your family may be happy to get into a rhythm and resume familiar routines. But don't forget your furry family members: they may be less excited about the beginning of the school year. In fact, you may begin to notice your dog "acting out" in September and October as the house gets quieter during the day. Your dog could be suffering from separation anxiety and struggling with the transition back into the academic year.

How can you tell if your dog is bothered by this return to school? How can you help? Here are a few tips.

Back to School for Fido

You've probably taken measures to prepare your family for the transition into the school year. Perhaps you've gone back-to-school shopping, talked with your kids about their new classrooms, grades, teachers, and schools, and even set up household management to make school mornings run smoothly. Have you given the same consideration to your dog?

During the summer months, your pup has likely been enjoying having the family around the house more and has spent time outside, maybe even accompanying you on hiking, camping, and fishing trips. Summer is a great time to be a dog. But as summer winds down and school begins again, your dog's life is in for a big change—one that may lead to some adverse behavioral issues.

Signs of Separation Anxiety

If you arrive home after a long day while the family has been away and notice that Rover has shredded the paper from your desk or torn up three pairs of your socks, you might have a case of separation anxiety on your hands. Here are the symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs.

  • Chewing furniture, clothing, or household items
  • Ripping up pillows and toys
  • Barking, whining and scratching at the door all day
  • Accidents in the house

Obviously, it can be a stressful situation for everyone in the household when a dog is dealing with separation anxiety. But how you handle it can make matters worse if you're not careful.

Managing Your Dog's Anxiety

It's important to know how to handle your dog's behavior. Never punish your dog for a behavior you believe is related to separation anxiety, especially as your punishment would likely come many hours after the destructive action. Instead, work with your dog to manage their stress.

  • If possible, ease your dog into the school year by starting with shorter periods of absence.
  • When leaving for the day, keep your departure unemotional and "business as usual." Don't draw out your goodbyes.
  • Keep the household atmosphere as calm as possible on school mornings. Mornings can be hectic as every tries to gather their essentials and get out the door, causing your dog (and you) undue stress. Prepare ahead of time to mitigate this.
  • Make sure your dog gets adequate exercise, and prioritize a morning walk before everyone leaves for the day.
  • Consider a dog day camp during the day.

If you have any questions about your dog's health or well-being, contact us.

Topics: Doggie Day Camp

Nikki Wardle

Written by Nikki Wardle

Nikki has been writing for Intermountain Pet Hospital since 2014.