For many dogs this week, the big yellow bus has taken their buddies away.
Back-to-school time isn't just a daunting time for kids and their parents, but the four-legged members of the family, too. Think about it — there is nothing better in a dog's eyes than having his people around for vast amounts of time during the best part of the year, especially the youngest members of the family.
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Dogs and people (kids especially) just go together.
But when children go back to school, they have a lot to look forward to: activity-filled days with friends, sights, and sounds - fun. Extracurricular activities fill up some of the time after the school day ends, too. Mom and Dad stay busy day in, day out.
What are dogs left with when all of this is going on? Not a whole lot, most often.
Consequently, the lack of stimulation, activity and attention can make for some very difficult days for these pooches and, in many cases, they act out in not-so-good ways. Separation anxiety is not uncommon and is more common in some breeds, typified by destructive behavior and barking.
Also, most dogs are raring to go run and play like crazy when everyone does finally does arrive home — and that can be difficult when the family is tired after a long day.
So how can humans help pets beat the back-to-school blues?
Be consistent. Keep your pooch on the schedule that he is used to: feeding, playtime, etc.
- Burn off that energy! A fun morning walk can help start the day off right by giving dogs the exercise that they need, setting the stage for good behavior all day.
- Keep them entertained! Use a stuffable, chewable toy that can keep them occupied while everyone is away. Kong toys are great (although Bear doesn’t enjoy them quite as much as the next dog), as are the AtomicTreat Balls from OurPets.
- Make time for play at different times of day. Being spontaneous is a boon to canines. All dogs love attention, and doing the things that they like to do is essential. Even a quick game of fetch, chase or tug of war is beneficial. There is no substitute for your time where your dog is concerned.
- Consider making time for a new hobby, like agility or tracking with your dog. Find something that they love doing that can continue through the school year.
- Give your pooch more than four walls to look at all day. Having a dog walker come in can help break up the day, give him a little fun and exercise and something to look forward to — especially interaction.
Some people may suggest crating your dog for the day while you’re away…I personally am very much against this. Yes, it may be a little harder to get your pooch to stop acting out, and it may take a little longer to come home to a clean floor and un-eaten shoes (remind me to tell you about the time Bear unpacked my groceries for me), but the end result is all that much better.
Thankfully Bear doesn’t suffer from the Back to School Blues too badly. He gets a little more mopey when I leave, but if you keep at it and stay consistent, you pooch will acclimatize to the house-hold’s new rhythm.
Bark back at us! Do you have any “Back to School Blues” stories you would like to share?
Keep your tails wagging,