Back-To-School Dog Tips From A Trainer
Going back to school isn’t easy for anyone – your dog included. Rachel Leavy, our training expert, offers a few tips on how to make the transition as painless as possible.
With back-to-school right around the corner, many homes are bustling with activity in preparation. Transitioning from kids being home all day to going back to class can be a stressful time for everyone – including the dog.
For the past few months, many dogs have had a constant companion to play with in the yard, and that’s going to change for them. It can be tough for a dog to get used to not having a friend all day, and some dogs will exhibit stress behaviors including: excessive barking, chewing things that shouldn’t be chewed, pawing at windows and doors, or even having accidents. Here are some tips to ease the dog into back-to-school and prevent any stress.
Get an Exercise Routine: No excuses! Set that alarm earlier and take the dog for a walk. Keep in mind, he’s losing his children and won’t have a constant playmate anymore. I know it’s hard on everyone, but letting the dog get forgotten in the whirlwind of the school morning is not going to benefit anyone. Even if it’s just a quick walk or fetch session, he will be more relaxed during the day and you won’t come home to a disaster (hopefully).
Hire a Dog Walker: If your dog is really high energy, or a young dog, hiring a dog walker can be beneficial. A person to get him some exercise and break up the monotony that is a dog waiting for his humans to get home will certainly keep him happy.
Check out Daycare: Dog daycare can be a great way to keep a social dog happy while the children are away at school. Do what’s best for your dog and make sure to research the companies in your area. For many dogs, just once or twice a week will make a huge difference in their energy levels. Ease the dog in slowly and be sure to monitor their progress by going to a trustworthy daycare. Too much of a good thing can be detrimental – so go slow.
Take a Class: Signing your dog up for a class will give you some consistent time with him each week. Obedience, agility, or even just socialization classes will give him something to do with you and maybe even the children – depending on their age. It will also have the added bonus of reminding him of his manners.
Treat Dispensing Toys: The dog toy market is flooded with interactive toys to help keep dogs busy while their owners are away. A Kong toy stuffed with kibble or peanut butter, and then frozen can keep a dog occupied for ages while their owners are away. Giving the dog a healthy treat toy before leaving can also help prevent any separation anxiety from cropping up during the transition. Or you can try a toy that keeps them guessing for their treat, such as the P.L.A.Y. Wobble Ball and the Nina Ottosson Dog Magic Puzzle.
I know that telling you not to stress while trying to wrangle three kids on the bus is laughable, but do your best. Our pets are in tune to our body language and pick up on our mental states. If you act stressed around them, chances are they will in turn get worried. Try to implement a plan to keep everyone happy and keep your couch in one piece!
Rachel Leavy lives in Rochester, New York with her dog, Maria, and her gecko, Nigel. She has loved animals all her life, and has owned her own dog training and walking company for five years. When she’s not playing with puppies, she can usually be found writing short stories, riding horses or out at a play.