Back to School: How to Help Your Dog Adjust
By: Jeff Noce, Voyce President
If your child is preparing to go back to school – or if they already have – you know how exciting and fun this time of year can be. There’s so much to do and look forward to: making friends, meeting teachers, learning new things.
However, this change in routine can also be stressful for parents, kids and the family dog. Over the summer, your pup may have grown used to constant activity, attention and companionship. When the first day of school arrives, though, all of that comes to a sudden stop. For some pets, this can lead to anxiety, boredom and unwanted behaviors.
The good news is that there are some simple things you can do to ease the back-to-school blues for your pooch.
Quickly Establish a New Routine
Dogs are creatures of habit and thrive on predictable routines. With school back in session, it’s important to quickly establish a new schedule that your pet can look forward to.
Start by taking a realistic look at your own schedule and determine which blocks of time are the least hectic. Giving yourself plenty of time will help ensure that things don’t get put off or skipped. For example, if you’re constantly rushing around in the morning, that may not be the best time to walk the dog.
Map out when meals, exercise, playtime and training will occur. It may help to create a chart outlining when each activity happens and which family member is responsible for them. Hang it in a central place in your home so that everyone can see it.
Boredom is a major contributor to unwanted dog-related behavior. Left to his own devices, your pup may find ways to entertain himself that aren’t exactly human-approved.
Help alleviate both boredom and unwanted behavior by providing your dog with toys and other activities that stimulate his mind. Food-dispensing toys are always a good bet since they require the dog to use both his brain and his body to get the reward. Hiding toys or low-calorie treats around the home for him to find is also a fun option.
For more active, well-socialized pups, doggie daycare might be a great way for him to burn off some energy and receive attention. If your dog is more of a homebody, break up his day by hiring a pet sitter to take him on a walk around the block.
Encourage Kid-Pet Bonding Time
If your dog and child are best friends, make sure they continue to spend some quality time together after school. Come up with a few age-appropriate activities and chores that the two of them will enjoy. Some ideas might include grooming, walking, feeding, playing fetch, or just sitting side-by-side doing homework.
Not only will these activities keep their bond strong, they’ll impart important lessons about responsibility that will stay with your child long after their school days are over!
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