Raining Cats & Dogs
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Dogs and cats thrive on routine, they like knowing what to expect and when to expect it. What may seem like a small change to you, can feel like a very big change for your pets and can cause them to feel anxious. (AP Photo)

Pets Get the Back-to-School Blues, Too!

Everyone struggles with saying so long to summer, but did you know that pets can get the back-to-school blues too? If you were on vacation from work, or your children were home from school, then your pets likely enjoyed more attention and exercise during the summer months. Now that you've returned to your normal schedule, dogs and cats are left wondering "why the sudden change?" - and that can make a pet feel stressed.

Dogs and cats thrive on routine, they like knowing what to expect and when to expect it. What may seem like a small change to you, can feel like a very big change for your pets and can cause them to feel anxious. Without routine stimulation they've grown accustomed to pets can entertain themselves/act out their stress by barking, scratching furniture, getting into the trash, house soiling, being generally destructive. The best thing to do for your pet is avoid abrupt change and work them into their new routine in the time leading up to the school year with short periods of separation that gradually become longer. Rely on the following tips to help prevent behavior problems and maintain the health and happiness of your pet while you're away.

Give your pet a treat every time you leave to help them develop positive associations with being alone. Keep your departures and returns quiet and low-key so as not to arouse any alarm unduly. Leave a familiar blanket or one of your T-shirts with your pet. Your smell will help soothe them. Ask your kids to spend quality time with the family pet after school - a walk around the block, a game of fetch in the yard.

Puzzle treats entertain longer - Keep them stimulated with physical and mental workouts. Hiding treats around the home can keep a dog or cat busy for hours. Stuffed Kong's are also great entertainment for dogs and some cats love to find a paper bag lying open on the floor (sprinkle cat nip inside)!

Consider hiring an occasional dog walker or brining your pooch to a doggie-daycare a few times a week to break up their day. This can help alleviate boredom and provide your pet with exercise.

Don't scold or punish your pet for bad behavior when you come home. It may make your pet more anxious and make situations worse.

Try to avoid making additional changes if you can help it - don't change their diet at this time for example. Keep exercise consistent and set aside a designated time each evening to give your pet one on one attention.

MyNorthwest.com, Staff report
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