Dogs get blues when kids go back to school

  • By Sue Manning Associated Press
  • Thursday, August 28, 2014 11:34am
  • Life

LOS ANGELES — 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 behavior 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

Talk to us

More in Life

Dave Dodge stands on a speaker while playing his guitar during Nite Wave's show at Tony V's Garage on Saturday, June 8, 2019 in Everett, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
1980s new wave streams when Bothell cover band performs

Hear Bothell’s own Nite Wave rock out at the “Best ’80s Party Ever!” on Feb. 27 via Facebook.

If you're a gardener who just can't wait for spring, winter-blooming pansies will tide you over. (Getty Images)
Do you suffer from the spring condition ‘hortitostrogenitis’?

It’s a made-up word for the feeling you get when it’s not yet March, but you’re itching to get back into the garden.

"Prophets, Teachers and Kings" is a 2020 documentary by Snohomish's John Carswell.
Urban art gets the spotlight at a new Snohomish gallery

The Rosella Gallery features artwork featured in the “Prophets, Teachers and Kings” documentary through March 30.

Barre3 owner Gina Drake leads an exercise class in the Red Barn at 5th Ave S and Maple Street on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2020 in Edmonds, Washington.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Barre3 teaches a fitness trifecta for balance during COVID-19

The full-body workouts combine strength conditioning, cardio and mindfulness to help you feel balanced.

Bourbon mash sits at a distillery in Versailles, Kentucky, on July 26, 2020. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Luke Sharrett.
Start your whiskey collection with these 10 bottles

Whether you’re new whiskey game or are a veteran collector, it’s hard to know when to store it or pour it.

A grain bowl with roasted veggies and lemon-garlic salmon is a great way to kick off fish Fridays for Lent. (Gretchen McKay/Post-Gazette/TNS)
Make this zesty lemon-garlic salmon farro bowl for Lent

A grain bowl with roasted veggies and lemon-garlic salmon is a great way to observe fish Fridays for Lent.

Riley Wong, 7, shows his pen pal, Smudge, the picture he drew for her in addition to his letter at Pasado's Safe Haven on Friday, Feb. 19, 2021 in Monroe, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Kids make connections with critters through pen pals program

Pasado’s Safe Haven near Sultan invites children to write to a turkey, a goat, a cow and a rooster.

The 2021 Honda Odyssey minivan has a restyled front end, including the grille, front bumper and LED headlights. (Manufacturer photo)
Functional, practical Honda Odyssey is a favorite among buyers

There’s plenty of room inside this minivan for people, pets and whatnot, and it’s even good in snow.

Can houseplants make you happy? We think so. (Jennifer Bardsley)
A love letter to houseplants during a long and lonely pandemic

A year of social-distancing is like living in a hothouse, but at least her plants provide good company.

Most Read