Accessibility/Mobile Features
Skip Navigation
Skip to Content
Editorial News
Lifestyles
Classified Sites

The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Experts: Back-to-school blues hit dogs, too, when their young owners go back to school

This Aug. 19, 2014 photo provided by Jill Williams shows kindergartner Harry Williams, 7, with his dogs Flora and Gandalf on his way to the bus stop on first day of school in Kanab, Utah. For millions of dogs across the country, summer is gone and so are their best buddies. Most dogs object for a while but eventually adjust to the new hours. But millions of others will feel abandoned, panicky, sad and unable to cope as they look for ways to lash out. (AP Photo/Jill Williams)

Enlarge Image

This Aug. 19, 2014 photo provided by Jill Williams shows kindergartner Harry Williams, 7, with his dogs Flora and Gandalf on his way to the bus stop on first day of school in Kanab, Utah. For millions of dogs across the country, summer is gone and so are their best buddies. Most dogs object for a while but eventually adjust to the new hours. But millions of others will feel abandoned, panicky, sad and unable to cope as they look for ways to lash out. (AP Photo/Jill Williams)

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Young people aren't the only ones who get back-to-school blues. Pooches used to months of constant playtime can get upset when their best buddies disappear with the dog days of summer.

Many dogs whine and wait eagerly at the front door but eventually adjust to the absence of their young owners when they are in class. But millions of dogs can feel abandoned, sad and unable to cope — and they look for ways to lash out.

Many of the nation's 80 million dogs have separation anxiety, Dr. Nick Dodman, of Tufts University's Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in Massachusetts, said citing studies.

Dogs with separation anxiety will bark, howl or whine; destroy something, leaving behind scratched doors, damaged blinds or torn curtains; or have accidents, Dodman said.

Dianne Larson of Santa Clarita, California, has seen it firsthand. School started two weeks ago, and year-old Ruby, a black Lab, still searches for Larson's son Tanner, 14, when he's gone.

"She stays in his room. If his door is closed, she will whine to get in," Dianne Larson said. If the dog isn't in Tanner's room, she's at the front window watching for him.

Side effects for anxious dogs don't stop at whimpering. Some dogs refuse to eat when their owners are gone, experts say.

"There will be an exuberant greeting when you do come home, one that can last several minutes and be completely crazy, then the dog will run to the food bowl," Dodman said.

Nearly half the anxious dogs have noise phobias, so if a storm hits while they are in an empty house, they can panic. A really insecure dog might become clingy and follow their owners around.

Besides recommended independence training, there are some things owners can do to ease their dogs' blues. Dodman suggests:

— Make your departure a happy time with toys and treats.

— Create a place in the house where the dog feels safe.

— Start the new routine before school begins.

— Don't indulge behaviour with baby talk or sympathy.

— See a vet if it doesn't improve.

To cope with separation, first-grader Harry Williams of Kanab, Utah, takes the family dogs, Flora and Gandalf, to the bus stop each morning to get a bit more time with them.

"He is sad to leave them and hugs them like 10 times before he gets on the bus. Usually Flora whines when the bus pulls away," mom Jill Williams said. But the dogs mostly sleep while the youngster is at school.

"Honestly, they don't really seem fazed by it other than when Harry gets on and off the school bus," Williams said.

For those whose dogs have more serious problems, other more expensive options include pet sitters, dog walkers and doggy day camp.

For the young Grimmett sisters in Edmond, Oklahoma, their dogs, an English setter and a Yorkshire terrier, got plenty of attention and outdoor playtime over the summer, but the dogs don't throw a fit when 10-year-old Willow and 5-year-old Coral go to school, which started this month.

The dogs welcome the girls home with unconditional love and affection — and no criticism, said mom, Dr. Danel Grimmett of the Sunset Veterinarian Clinic.

"Yes, they miss their girls, but they seem to understand," she said. "And all the time away during the day disappears as soon as the girls return."

___

Online:

— www.tufts.edu/vet

  • Rate this Rate This Star Icon
  • This article has not yet been rated.
  • We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high. If you thought it was well written, do the same. If it doesn’t meet your standards, mark it accordingly.

    You can also register and/or login to the site and join the conversation by leaving a comment.

    Rate it yourself by rolling over the stars and clicking when you reach your desired rating. We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high.

Sort by: Newest to Oldest | Oldest to Newest | Most Popular 0 Commentscomment icon

You can comment on most stories on brandonsun.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is register and/or login and you can join the conversation and give your feedback.

There are no comments at the moment. Be the first to post a comment below.

Post Your Commentcomment icon

Comment
  • You have characters left

The Brandon Sun does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. Comments are moderated before publication. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

Brandon Sun Business Directory
The First World War at 100
Why Not Minot?
Welcome to Winnipeg

Social Media