It's Back to School

Ahhh, the end of summer…

The sad sobs of children outdone only by the plaintive cries of teachers everywhere.

But don't forget the mournful howls of our furry friends.

The end of lazy, playful summer days and the return to routine and schedules can be a difficult adjustment for everybody. If you have a pet, you should also consider how it affects them. Those early alarms mean long stretches of quiet at home. The loss of play pals. Less park days. And since dogs can't read calendars, they don't understand why they are suddenly abandoned.

Those mournful howls are understandable.

Our canine pals feed off our energy and our state of mind. Many of us have more flexibility in our lives during the summer. Our pets notice when our lifestyle returns to a more rigid and harried schedule. Our stress becomes their stress.

And dogs thrive with structure. So a sudden change to routine requires adjustment. Not to mention the reduction in both mental and physical exercise. Unsurprisingly, many pet parents see drastic changes in their dogs’ behavior come September.

When animals are under stress or under stimulated, they tend to exhibit unusual or exaggerated behaviors. Separation anxiety can also result in accidents, chewing of household items, excessive barking or scratching, whining, or disobeying understood commands.

The good news is with a little prep, you can all transition into the new season with ease.

Make Time For Exercise

Being left alone doesn’t just mean more alone time for your dog, it means less exercise.

Exercise is a top deterrent of unwanted behaviors, and we tend to be less active once summer ends. It is important that you schedule time to exercise your dog now that time is less abundant.

Scheduling little blocks of time just for your dog will assure we fit in this important daily activity. And your dog will love the one-on-one time.

If you cannot find time to exercise or be with your dog, consider a day at doggie daycare where your dog can play with other doggie friends.

Practice Makes...Better

Start your back-to-school routine now. Today. Give your dog plenty of time to start adjusting.

Set your alarm to get up earlier as if you were already on a school schedule. Start taking your dog out for walks at the same time as you will once school starts. Both morning and evening. Same for meals.

If you will crate your dog after a summer of not, start leaving them alone in their crate for short periods of time.

Calm is Calming

Rushing out the door to the school bus, to work, or to the train does not only stress us out, but also our dogs.

Being calm when you leave will make Fido feel less anxiety.

And the inverse is true too. You and the kids may want to make a big deal upon your return. Big hugs and lots of kisses. But don’t do it. Grand returns may trigger anxiety over the eventual departure. Commend your dog for good behavior and then ignore her for 10 to 15 minutes. Then play. That way your dog won’t connect return with play.

Not getting worked up is the key, so no big goodbyes and no big hellos.

Inclusive Routine

Just because our back-to-school schedule allows less time for us to spend with our pets, doesn't mean we can't find new ways to spend time with them. Include them on the walks to the bus stop or bring them in the car on the way to school or carpool.

Is your son and daughter learning to read? Have them read to the dog. Your children get to practice with an audience and the dog gets relaxed attention.

Small moments can add up and make your dog feel like he is not being left out.

Take a Class

If the end of Summer means back to school, why not take Spot to class?

Your local canine center may offer new skills classes or remedial training sessions that can fit any schedule.

Your dog learns a new skill and you both some get some quality interaction time.

New Toy

Who doesn’t love a new game or toy to help while away the hours? I’m looking at you Angry Birds…

There a plenty of toys and puzzles on the market that can help distract your dog while home alone. Dogs tend to like chew toys, bones, or toys that involve treat rewards.

Also consider leaving a television or radio on to provide some ambient noise.

Would you be interested in my list of favorite toys and puzzles for your dog?

I will be sharing more information on on that subject and more like the safest way to travel with your dog in the car and how to prevent and improve car sickness and address unwanted car behaviors such as barking and climbing around the car.

Having a well-mannered canine car companion affords us more ways to just hang out with our dog but remember NEVER leave your dog in an unattended car for any amount of time.

Having a different challenge with your pet during this time of year? Let me know! If you have any questions or comments – feedback is always welcome. I’m here to help you master the relationship with your pet.

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