Consistency, routine, family pack structure and familiar faces: What to do with Fido when a member leaves the nest.
By: Carol Bryant, Social Media & PR Director FIDO Friendly magazine
Millions of students will be graduating this time of year. As families prepare for change with students moving away, getting ready for college marks a new beginning. As humans, the sting of an empty household brings a whole new set of emotions known as empty nest syndrome. As a member of the family, Fido might experience empty nest feelings as well.
What should we as guardians to our canine family members do when the very foundation and consistency in Fido’s routine is rocked? Thousands of hotels and B&B’s allow Fido, so plan ahead and take the family pooch with you for this important life change. “The Hotel Palomar in San Francisco is a perfect example of a Fido-friendly getaway for the whole family. See off your kids to college in the bay area and acclimate Fido slowly in style,” FIDO Friendly publisher Susan Sims related.
What about the dreaded return trip home and the “but where’s Billy or Suzy” feelings that Fido is bound to experience? In the weeks before college or school is due to start, start getting Fido used to being on his own more. Have the student be away from Fido for longer periods of time so that the eventual separation doesn’t present as such a shock. Small animal veterinarian of 20 years, Audrey Harvey, told FIDO Friendly magazine, “To cheer Fido up, there are a couple of things that can be done. Increase their exercise. If possible, get them out for a walk or a run in the morning every day, particularly if they’re going to be on their own during the day. In people exercise has been shown to be as effective as mild anti-depressants. There aren’t any such studies in dogs but their brains aren’t that much different to ours.”
What about getting a second dog to keep the first one company? “Some people think about getting another dog as company, and that can often work very well. People just need to make sure that they can afford the expenses associated with a second dog, and have a contingency plan in case it doesn’t all go smoothly,” Dr. Harvey stated.
Some practical tips to help Fido adjust include keeping the daily activity consistent. Accommodate Fido’s routine as closely as possible. Did Jimmy take him out at 7am for potty time? Did Fido and Amanda play for a half an hour at night? Dogs love routine. Be a part of it. Interactive toys keep Fido’s mind stimulated and off the missing family member. Just as with Fido on a rainy day, an idle mind is a wandering mind. Prevent negative or depressive behavior and make toy time fun time.
Dr. Harvey added, “If a dog is still feeling down after a few weeks, or if he seems to be getting worse rather than better and getting really distressed when he’s on his own, vets can help. There are medications that ease anxiety in dogs, and they are really useful. They’re not a quick fix though. There’s quite a bit of work involved, and it can take a while to help your dog adjust.”
Find things to do, places to see and activities Fido can engage in with the latest issue of FIDO Friendly magazine.
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Great piece packed with great advice! Thanks Carol!
This reminded me about my experience when I went away to school. I had lost my first dog of 12 years in January…my mother had asked me if I wanted another dog and I told her no because I was leaving…well she went a got me a dog anyway…2 months before I was leaving : ( I think the separation was worse for me than it was for him….His name was Max…Loved him to death.