As the three days of summer draw to a close and you find yourself dreaming of the lazy pace of the season just past, you need only look down at your dog to know that he too may be pining for the days that have recently passed.
Loss of appetite, separation anxiety, nighttime pacing, digging, barking, chewing, and even depression are all red flags that tell you something may be wrong with your dog. However, if this behavior coincides with the end of the season and doesn’t match the behavior of your otherwise well-behaved dog (and your veterinarian has ruled out any underlying physical problems), then it’s time to consider that the culprit may just be – the summer blues. Fortunately, fixing it isn’t hard at all. In fact, you just need to use BLUES. that’s all.
1. Pay attention to relationships
Pay attention to the close relationships the dog has formed over the past few weeks of free range. If they happen to be with a family member who is visiting or planning to move out (such as a child who is going to college), try to make new connections with the family member who will continue to live in the house full time. Assigning a new roommate before the dog loses his old one will help avoid stressful sleeping situations.
2. Leadership for the whole family
Leadership will give the dog something to lean on when there are changes in daily life and family members. Have everyone in the house take turns feeding. Have your dog sit and feed as a reward for obeying commands. Teaching your dog to follow basic obedience commands for everyone in the house will get him used to working for more than one boss, while honing his skills. Once a dog learns to work for the whole family, the stressful effects of seasonal family changes on your dog will be lessened because his job description stays the same.
3. Use familiar objects
Use familiar objects to keep the dog company at night and when alone during the day. If the dog has a piece of clothing or a sheet that smells like you or a favorite family member when he is alone, the closeness of the family scent will help him feel less isolated. You can also try calming products, such as blankets, toys and medication.
Dogs also look for their people in objects that smell most like us, so if you cherish your remote control or plan to keep your new comforter, a smelly old T-shirt will do the trick.
4. Adapt to a new routine
Allow your dog to slowly adjust to his new routine. If the family member who walks the dog or sleeps with him will soon be spending less time at home, give the task of walking and the pleasure of sleeping with the dog to someone who will be more consistently present. Do this a week or two before the routine must be changed to avoid any sudden changes. By the same token, if your house will soon become an empty nest when your children go to school, gradually start leaving the dog alone (for an hour or two at a time) to prepare the house for what is about to become a quiet house.
5. Stimulate your dog through exercise
Stimulate your dog’s mind and body through consistent exercise. No matter what the season, exercise is the key to solving a large number of canine behavior problems. Rain or shine, warm or cold weather, every day, physical exercise is a must. And, because boredom triggers a host of undesirable behaviors (such as digging, chewing, barking and jumping), it’s just as important to stimulate your dog’s mind as it is to stimulate his body. Indoor games of fetch and training in basic obedience commands will help prevent your dog’s mind and body from wandering around.
It’s only natural that after spending countless days and nights with a loved one, only to spend a few hours on his own equipment – even a well-trained dog will chew on a rug or two. Understandably, even the most reliable housebreaking dog may leave a place in a loved one’s room. What’s more, it’s no surprise that even the most laid-back dog can show signs of separation anxiety after a few action-packed, fun-filled weeks with you and the kids. But taking a little time to get him out of the summertime trifecta will not only help you avoid any of the stress that comes with the change of seasons, it may even teach your dog not to sing the blues at all.