Going back to school can be a stressful time for everyone, including the family pet. Pets are creatures of habit and it is important to establish clear rules and a set schedule to ensure they will be happy and well adjusted. This is especially true for dogs, because they tend to depend on their owner’s attention more so than cats. Check out these tips to help your pet transition into the new routine and avoid bad behaviors.
Separation Anxiety: With everyone at work or school for long periods, dogs left alone can become stressed, resulting in destructive behaviors and endless attention.
- Start early – Several weeks before school begins, get your dog comfortable with being alone by separating him from the family. If you often take your dog with you to run errands, leave him at home.
- Practice leaving the house – Gather your things, exit the door; but then come right back. Your dog will cease associating the routine of your leaving with your departure and will be more relaxed when you actually leave.
- Be calm and assured – When leaving the house, you inadvertently confuse your dog if you say sweetly, “it’s okay, Buster – we’ll be home soon.” If they feel concerned about your leaving, a happy, high-pitched voice tone can make him think it’s okay to feel anxious. As pack animals, dogs expect their leader to be strong when they leave the pack. Therefore, ignore your dog for about 10 minutes before you leave.
Boredom: Dogs sleep during the day, but when they wake up, they want something to do. It doesn’t take much to entertain a dog, even when you are not home.
- Toys – Dogs love toys, but they can quickly get bored with or destroy them. Buy high-quality, virtually indestructible puzzle toys that hold treats, like the Buster Cube and KONG products. Every few days, switch out the toys so your dog has new and fun things to hold his interest.
- Scatter food – Dogs are natural foragers who enjoy looking for food on the grounds. Scatter bits of raw vegetables, dog kibble, and other foods that won’t attract ants around the home when you leave. Hide treats so your dog spends extra time looking for them. Always provide plenty of fresh, clean water for your dog to drink.
Shelter: Dogs need to have their own “home,” a place where they feel secure and comfortable. If your dog doesn’t already have a place of his own, create one for them.
- Crate – Most dogs love the safety of a crate. Because dogs are descended from den-dwelling animals, a crate makes a natural shelter. If your dog hasn’t been crate trained, don’t start training him the day the kids leave for school. That’s too late and can actually add to the stress.
- Laundry Room – If you are concerned about your inside-dog toileting in the house, enclose them in a small room (which inhibits the tendency to toilet) and has an easy-clean floor (in case there is an accident). Place a soft bed and toys in the room for them as well.
- Doghouse – Be sure your outside-dog has shelter so they can escape the weather. Dogs are more relaxed when they are covered and in familiar surroundings. Place the doghouse next to the house so they feel that it is an extension of the larger “den,” and add some comfy bedding.
Unusual Behavior: A stressed dog can begin to exhibit bad behaviors, such as jumping up or biting. Sometimes a dog will greet children roughly when they arrive home from school, even knocking a child to the floor. After being alone all day, the dog’s pent-up energy may cause him to overact.
- Train the kids – Train your children to avoid going right to the dog’s area as soon as they get home. Have them ignore the pet for five minutes to allow him to settle down. With young children, it is best to have an adult present to reduce the chance of a problem. Once your dog learns the routine, he will relax.
- Train your dog – It is amazing how quickly dogs learn what is acceptable and what is not. Dogs have a language of their own and once we understand it, we can easily manage them.
This information is brought to you by Bark Busters Home Dog Training, the world’s largest, most trusted dog training company. Bark Busters is the only international dog training company that offers guaranteed lifetime support. For more information, call us at 813-501-4985 or contact your local dog behavioral therapist at 1-877-500-BARK (2275) or by visiting www.BarkBusters.com