Many behaviors can signal a pet's anxiety or sadness because of a shift from a summer to a school schedule. These behaviors may include:
- Excessive pacing, barking or meowing.
- Urinating or defecating in the home or in unapproved areas. • Escape attempts.
- Destruction of furniture or toys.
- Unusual chewing, digging or other frantic behavior.
If such behaviors are evident, pet owners can take specific measures to help their animals. Some strategies to consider include:
- Introduce short separations to help your pet become accustomed to the upcoming schedule change.
- Foster your pet's independence by helping him or her play alone with toys and other activities.
- When your pet is alone, leave her or him an interactive toy via a food dispenser, such as the Kong.
- Do not punish or scold your pet for unusual behavior during the adjustment period (the behavior could be rooted in fear, and punishment could exacerbate that insecurity).
- If the behavior does not improve, seek the help of an animal behaviorist or your local veterinarian.
"Back-to-school is a special time for families, but it can be anxiety-provoking for pets, especially for some shelter pets who haven't had stable homes before," noted SEAACA Executive Director, Dan Morrison. "If pet owners know what to look for and are equipped with preventive and healing techniques, this annual rite of fall can be more pleasant for everyone," he added.