Back To School Blues in Pets

With school getting close to being back in session, we all know that little preschool brother or sister is going to have an adjustment to make when an older sibling is suddenly gone all day.  All summer, all the kids were around doing things together, but now it seems quiet for the younger ones.  We try to think of things to entertain them, and get their minds off the absence of their best buddies.

But there’s another member of the family that we might not think about going through the “back to school blues” – our pets.  They are used to the same people being around each day, and looking forward to playing with the kids. This may not seem like a concern to us, but to them something just isn’t right.

It might help our pet if we take a minute to think of some things we can do to make him less conscious of the missing family member.

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Back To School Blues in Pets

Kim Campbell Thornton of MSNBC tells us that dogs get the back-to-school blues.

When they’ve had their friend around to play tag with, take naps with, or take walks with, and suddenly that friend isn’t there during the day, Fido might get a little sad.  This is true with dogs, but it can also happen with cats.  Both develop attachments to everyone around them.  They get used to a routine of daily things to do, and when this routine is changed in one way or another, they can’t figure out what happened!  They may tend to sleep more, or be less excited about the things going on around them when their world has changed.

But the good news is that there are things we can do to get their minds stimulated, and maybe not miss their friend quite as much.

How To Avoid the Back To School Blues in Pets

Exercise is probably number one on the list to accomplish this.  It’s a very good step in the right direction to help our animals out.  (Of course, it helps us as well.)  Taking him out to show him that he can have fun even though Johnny is away is important to get him over the blues.  In Ms. Thornton’s article, she quotes Mary Lee Nitschke, a professor of psychology as saying,

“The more physical exercise, the more endorphin release you can provide, and that’s all good.”

A really good idea is to take the pet along, if possible, when taking the child to school, or picking him up.  If school is in walking distance, this would be an excellent way to show the pet, on a routine basis, that his best friend will be coming home each day.  Everyone’s getting their needed exercise, but your pet is also seeing a pattern daily that their friend is indeed coming home.

Dr. Nitschke also states that we should try to keep ourselves busy as well if we are down about our children going to school.  Our pets easily pick up on our temperament.

Another great idea for your pet to get used to the child being away is having the child leave a worn item of clothing for the dog to smell during the day.  This is actually a comforting thing for your pet and helps him relax.  You might think it would be opposite – that this would make him miss the child more – but experts agree that this can help.

Cats, too, need to have their routine stay as close to what it was when the other member of the family was around.

The main ingredient in adapting our pets to their best friend being gone during the day is time.  They will adjust over a period of time to their new routine, and will end up looking forward to the end of the day when their best bud walks through that door!

photo credit: Hunter via photopin (license)

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