When the freedom of summer vacation comes to an end, your dog may start to feel a little blue. After all, he's probably so used to having the kids around that an empty household seems strange. For some dogs, that abrupt change can cause sadness, loneliness, and even bouts of separation anxiety.

Here are five things to do with your dog to help ease the transition when your kids go back to school.

1. Exercise, Exercise, Exercise

Provide plenty of exercise for your pooch to help burn off extra energy and keep his spirits high. Schedule an extra walk during the day, maybe along a new route to stimulate your dog — or have a mega session of fetch after the kids get home from school.

2. Break Out a New Toy

Back-to-school season is the perfect time to give your pooch a new toy to keep him occupied during the day when the kids are gone. Try an extra-special chew toy or one that you can stuff with tasty treats. Or, give him a puzzle toy that will encourage him to look for hidden goodies.

3. Teach Him a New Trick

Did you know that learning something new helps ease your dog's loneliness and boredom? It doesn't have to be anything extravagant — a simple "shake," "speak," or "stay" will work. However, if you really want to ramp things up for your dog, enroll him in an agility or advanced training course.

4. Crank the Tunes

Some dog shelters have found that playing calming music helps the dogs in their facilities relax. It can't hurt to crank a little classical music when you and the kids leave for the day.

5. Spend Some Quality Time Together

It may be tough to fit in between after-school activities and homework, but be sure the kids spend some quality time with your pooch each day. Whether you're going on long walks, taking trips to the dog park, or even just relaxing on the couch, do whatever your dog loves best.

Back-to-school time is a hard adjustment for everyone in the family — and that includes your dog. With a little effort and patience, you can help him settle into the new school-time schedule.

Do you have some ideas of things to do with your dog that we haven't covered here? Let us know in the comments!