Now that the dog days of summer are coming to an end, it’s likely you and your pooch will go to the dog beach or for swims less frequently. Your pooch will be left at home, sometimes all alone, as the family empties the house to go to school, college or work.
Vetstreet.com’s Julie Shaw, RVT, VTS, has some thoughts and advice on how to help your dog transition into this phase of the year:
- Limit their environment: When leaving to drop off the kids to school, limiting the free space for your dog to roam around the home will help keep him safe and out of trouble. While crating is one option, other options might include using gates and simply closing doors to decrease your dog’s entertainment options. As with any training, the key point is to “teach it before you need it,” so it’s important to begin introducing your dog to confinement before the actual event, and not at the moment you’re leaving for the first day of school.
- New routine inclusion: Instead of an empty home, help your dog understand where everyone is going and include him in the new routine. If you walk your children to the bus stop, take your dog with you, or if you drive them to school, bring him in the car. These activities can become part of the new routine. Remember, dogs feel more secure when they have predictability in their lives, so before the actual change in schedule occurs, try to gradually slip into the new routine. Feed him at the same time of day, walk him to the bus stop with the kids and try to keep all schedules as consistent as possible.
- Separation anxiety solutions: Less attention and activity may lead to separation anxiety and destructive behaviors. It’s very important that when leaving for school, the kids don’t make a fuss over the family dog. Big tearful goodbyes and assurances that they will be back at the end of the school day only excites him, and then he is suddenly left alone with built-up emotional energy that needs a release. Instead, teach the kids to give your pooch a quick goodbye without an emotional barrage.
- Send your pet “back to school”: How about using this time to send your dog back to school as well? Enroll your pooch in a new training program like treibball or scenting classes so they can continue learning while the kids are at school.
- Pet chores for kids: School is often stressful for kids and returning home to find your pooch waiting for them can be an incredible stress reliever. Assign the kids a time to walk the dog when they return home. These don’t have to be aerobic work-out marathons, but instead provide mental stimulation for the dog and a time for the children to discuss their day with their wet-nosed friend.
If your child is past the school lunch and backpack days, but doesn’t want to leave your pooch behind, some colleges are dog friendly. Before the two of them head off to campus, be sure to check out the rules for dogs in dorms.
The good news is that many colleges across the country are changing their policies and allowing students who live in their dorms to bring their dogs to school with them. While some have age restrictions, other institutes have breed-specific restrictions. Again, it’s best to find out first-hand from the institute its policies on doggie roommates.
PHOTO: Ildar Sagdejev