Whenever we have a change in our routine or schedule – back to school, leaving for college, returning to work, new baby – we often don’t think about how this can affect our dog. However, some dogs are ultra-sensitive to these changes and can actually suffer physically and mentally, and cause damage if left to cope on their own. Here are some ways to help your dog cope with the changes.
Make Gradual Changes. How awful is it to switch from graveyard to day shifts, or to have to wake-up at 5am when you are used to sleeping until 10? It can mess with your body physically and mentally and it’s the same for your dog. If at all possible, ease your dog into the new schedule. If someone is leaving (school, work, etc), start having them be gone a few days of the week (to the mall or movies, a friend’s house, etc), so your dog starts adjusting to them being gone. This is especially important for dogs with separation anxiety. For those, you may have to start with as little as a minute of alone time. If your dog is used to getting played with in the morning, and now it’s going to be in the evening, add in the evening session and then gradually wean out the morning session. Otherwise, your dog is going to have a lot of pent up energy they are expecting to expend in the morning. Don’t worry though, they will find some way to get rid of it – maybe eating the couch or redecorating the bathroom?
No Big Deal. Do not make a big deal of any changes. Whether it’s someone coming or going, leaving the house for good, etc. If you are stressed, angry, sad, or grabbing onto your dog every time you see him, it will make it worse on him. Stay calm, and don’t make a deal of greeting or saying goodbye to your dog before coming/going. This helps him stay calm and relaxed.
Don’t Forget. This can happen especially in the case of something like a new baby, a death, or another emotionally-charged, life-changing event. When we are wrapped up in our own lives, the dog can get neglected. However, this can cause behavioral issues associated with boredom or stress, such as destroying items or going to the bathroom in the house. To avoid that, make sure you remember to play with your dog like you always do – even if you have to write on the fridge, make a note in your smart phone, or tape it to your car window door so you don’t forget. It will be good for you too.
New Toys. Nothing eases someone leaving or coming as the fun of a new toy. Save those special treat dispensing toys, for example, for these times. Your dog may start liking you to leave if he gets a tasty treat each time.
Professional Help. Don’t forget that there are veterinarians, animal behaviorists, and dog trainers that can help your dog if they are having a really hard time. It’s okay to ask for help!
About the Author
Based in Wilsonville, Ore., animal lover Kristina N. Lotz is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA) and works as a full time trainer. She also owns her own custom pet products company, A Fairytail House, where she makes personalized collars, leashes, beds, keepsake pillows and blankets, and anything else your imagine can think up. In her spare time, she trains and competes in herding, agility, obedience, rally, and conformation with her Shetland Sheepdogs. She smartly married a Veterinary Technician, who helps keep the fur kids happy and healthy, and provides a quick resource for articles.
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