The back-to-school season signals a change in schedules and can be a time of big adjustment for families – especially the four-legged member of the family: the family dog. One day the house is bustling with activity and the next day the house is empty and quiet. It’s beneficial to prepare your dog for the change.
Dogs are pack animals and are comfortable with routines – they especially like the “pack” being home and with them. When there is an abrupt change in their routine, they can start acting out of character – becoming depressed, destructive, or vocal, for example. It’s important to help your dog through the back-to-school period by preparing them for the change beforehand, and not abandoning them afterward.
Kerri Marshall, DVM, Chief Veterinary Officer at Trupanion, offers the following tips for ensuring your pet remains his happy self though the back-to-school season:
Prepare your pooch for the change. Start implementing changes to the routine several weeks before the start of school. Have the whole family leave the house for increasingly longer periods of time so your dog can get used to the quiet. But remember to keep feeding times constant!
Ensure continued exercise. Walks, playtime in the yard, and trips to the dog park might be common in the summer months, but drop off when everyone goes back to school. If you don’t have the opportunity for time at home during the day, consider hiring a dog walker. You will notice how much happier your dog is after being walked and this stays with him all day.
Invest in educational toys as an enrichment tool. There are many toys on the market that will keep your dog entertained for longer periods of time. For example, puzzle toys that encourage your dog to look for hidden treats can work your dog’s mind while also taking up time. For larger dogs, Kong toys with a small amount of peanut butter dabbed in the middle are great fun. Remember to clean them well each day.
Heather Kalinowski lives in the Seattle area with her husband, newborn son, and two rescued pups – an Italian Greyhound named Ava and a Spaniel mix named Jackson. She enjoys reading, writing, spending time with her family, and volunteering with Italian Greyhound Rescue.