Why back to school season can be stressful for pets (and what you can do to help!)

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pets stressed at back to school time

It’s not the full moon, Mercury in retrograde, or your imagination: the end of the summer season can trigger behavior issues in pets. We often see an increase in training and behavioral questions from our customers right around when school is back in session. Pets get used to having their adult and kid owners around more often, and can act out when they head back to school and/or work.

Most often, negative autumn behaviors manifest themselves in households that have children who spend a lot of quality time with their animals. At back to school time, pets can feel lonely and confused about the decrease in attention and human presence in the house. Childless households can also experience changes in pets during the fall, as work schedules get busier and people spend less recreational time with their animals. Loneliness and change can trigger depression and anxious actions like excessive chewing, barking, feather plucking, and litter box issues.

Luckily, there are things pet owners can do to help relieve stress in pets and curb negative behaviors:

  • Spend more productive quality time with pets when you are home. Take them on walks, actively engage in playtime or obedience training, or get children to engage with pets before and/or after school.
  • Offer special chewing, treat-dispensing, or puzzle-type toys to keep pets’ minds occupied when human companions are away from home. Offer these coveted toys only when you are leaving the house. We are happy to help you pick out toys that will keep your animals busy!
  • Ignore excessive barking whenever possible. If you open the door to let your dog in because they are barking, this teaches the dog that barking gets the door opened. Wait for a pause in barking before letting them inside. Try not to use the backyard as a place of banishment or punishment, and as always, never leave a dog outdoors in the heat.
  • Be sure to clean litter boxes and small animal cages regularly. Often, people can get busier in the fall and this unpleasant task can fall by the wayside, triggering pets to eliminate in all the wrong places. Setting an alarm on your phone to remind yourself to clean them regularly can be useful.
  • CBD treats can be helpful to calm animals that experience separation or other anxieties. Ask our staff members to suggest a product that may work best for your pet.
  • Consider hiring a dog walker to come a couple of hours after you’ve left the house to help Fido expend energy before they come up with a creative way to destroy your furniture or shoes. View a list of local services here.

Resolutions to behavioral problems in pets are most effective when they address the root causes. Otherwise, you are just being reactive to the symptoms. So while barking might be the problem, the actual problem isn’t the barking, it’s the stress that causes barking. As always, please feel free to ask us any questions you have about caring for your pet. We love them just as much as you do!

Nicole Apostle is the marketing director at Pets Plus.