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Back-to-School Anxiety Strategies...For Your Pets!

As descendants of pack animals, dogs thrive on togetherness. So with your kids at home more often during the summer months, your pets are happy campers. Now that school and fall sports are starting up again, your four-legged friends may be feeling lonely and even acting out. Luckily, The Urban Dog Group has some tips and tricks up our sleeves!

To start, be sure you’re aware of the symptoms of separation anxiety in your pets.

For dogs, some examples include:

  • Being destructive when left alone

  • Urinating or defecating in the house

  • Barking

  • Chewing on shoes or furniture

  • Trying to escape

  • Pacing

  • Preventing you from leaving

Similarly, signs of distress for cats include:

  • Hiding

  • Not eating

  • Social withdrawal

  • Being aggressive

  • Twitching their tail or ears

Now, let’s look at four strategies to help you address back-to-school anxiety…for your pets!

1. Gradually ease into the increased separation.

Start with short trips out of the house (like a 15-minute walk around the neighborhood) and slowly increase the time that you’re gone. This simple strategy will teach them that you always come back. Similarly, if your animal is used to hourly bathroom breaks, start to correct this habit by taking them out less frequently.

2. Start making positive associations with your exit.

Pups tend to guess your next move based on your repeated behaviors. Maybe they start barking with excitement whenever you lace up your sneakers and grab your baseball cap. Negative associations can occur as well. For instance, they might start whining every time you grab your work bag, anticipating your departure.

It’s time to shift their mindset! If they like treats, fill a Kong with frozen peanut butter and hand it off before you walk out the door. If they’re into toys, set aside a special toy that they only get to play with while you’re gone. After you’ve given them their treat or toy, wait a few minutes before slipping away.

3. Install indoor security cameras.

If you worry that your pet may act out while you’re out of the house, keep an eye on them! Use an at-home camera system like Google’s Nest cams to not only watch them but speak to them as well. Look for signs of fear: Dogs may tuck in their tail, pace, panting, or drool, while cats often vocalize in a plaintive tone.

A video may let you in on what is leading to their destructive behaviors. For instance, a one-year-old puppy might shred a pillow as a part of playtime, not misery! An added bonus: It will also help assuage your fears, as you can check in on your furry friend whenever you want.

4. Help them feel safe.

If you know your pet suffers from anxiety, think about what you can do to help them feel better. Some animals may be happier in a crate, as they may think of it like a cozy den. If they prefer to roam, block access to certain rooms if needed. Some veterinarians recommend a plug-in pheromone dispenser — Adaptil for dogs or Feliway for cats — that releases a synthetic version of the animal’s pheromones to create a sense of calm. You can also check with your vet for prescription anxiety medications or CBD-infused treats.

Let The Urban Dog Group help you with your real estate needs. Contact Christine Elias at

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