Back to School time is a very exciting time for the entire family, and that includes Fido. After long summer days spent playing with the kids outside, your dog is about to transition to longer periods alone and inside. Schedule changes can be stressful for dogs, but you can help your dog adjust to new routines and changes in daily activities. Try some of these strategies to help your dog cope:
Ease into the Routine
Before school starts, begin introducing your dog to the upcoming changes in schedule. Get up early with Fido and take him out for a rigorous walk. Accustom your dog to some of the activities you might use to keep him occupied when you won’t be home, and if you plan to use a crate when you’re not at home, help your dog to acclimate before the first day of school.
For the past few months, your dog’s chief source of entertainment has probably been your children, and they can be very stimulating for a curious, happy family pet. Now that they are gone, help your dog fend off the boredom blues with enrichment toys, puzzles, and games. In other words, give your dog some homework! Stock up on toys that can be filled with treats like peanut butter, frozen banana slices, and piece of kibble. Hide toys and treats around the house for them to find as a game, and get your dog thinking about how he can earn or find a treat.
Plan Bathroom Time
If you plan to leave your dog at home without a break during lunch, be sure that your dog has been trained to wait that long and is physically capable. Schedule exercise time and a long bathroom break in the morning before you leave and make sure that the first person home in the afternoon lets the dog out immediately. If you aren’t sure your dog can manage while you are gone, arrange for a pet sitter or dog walker to stop in midday.
Your dog is used to the sound of a busy home filled with children. When you start leaving your dog at home by himself more often, consider leaving a radio or the television on while you’re away. The background noise can be comforting and help your dog cope with the sounds of neighbors and traffic.
Take Your Dog to School
If you have the time and notice that your dog seems bored without the kids around, consider enrolling Fido in some classes. Basic Obedience, Canine Good Citizen, and Agility classes are a great way to engage your dog in activities that use their minds and help them cope with new challenges. Not only will classes ease your dog’s boredom, they may also help him learn to behave better with or without the kids at home.
Some dogs are very good at getting into backpacks and lunchboxes, the contents of which can be dangerous for our pups. Lunchboxes are particularly tempting. Some of the most common lunchbox toxins include:
- Chewing gum, especially gum that contains xylitol
- Macadamia nuts
- Moldy food
- Cold packs (used to keep food cool)
- ADHD medications
- Asthma Inhalers
- OTC medications and anti-inflammatories
Make it a habit for kids to hang up backpacks or stow lunchboxes where dogs can’t reach them. You can create a “dropbox” with a lid where kids can drop bags and boxes as they come in the door.
School time is a great time for the entire family to learn something new! Make back-to-school time the beginning of something great.