Are Your Kids Back to School? Here’s How to Prepare Your Dog
When your kids return to school, they’re not the only ones who undergo a serious adjustment. Our dogs also struggle to adapt to their new schedule and alone time. To help your dogs feel more comfortable and lessen the likelihood of separation anxiety, be sure to prepare them appropriately.
Here are my top tips for curing your dog’s back to school blues:
1) Begin Spending a Bit of Time Away Before School Starts
Start with short trips away from the house. Maybe take the kids for a short walk or a quick visit to the store. Then make the trips a little longer. Visit a nearby playground or go to the library.
When your dog is fine with being alone during these trips, try something longer, like an afternoon movie or hanging out with friends for a few hours. Eventually, your dog will get used to entertaining themselves just as they did while your kids were at school last spring (or before COVID-19).
2) Hire a local dog walker
If you are going to be gone for longer periods of time, you might want to look for a dog walker to get your dog out of the house in the middle of the day.
What should you consider when hiring someone to walk your dog?
- What experience do they have? Check to see what experience they have and if they have any training and certification in the field. You want someone that knows what they are doing, so look carefully at their background, experience, and training.
- Did they interact well with your dog? A good dog walker needs to be comfortable with your dog, and vice versa. Not all dogs like all people, so have your prospective dog walker come visit your dog and see how they get along. Have them take your dog on a walk and see how it goes.
- Do they have the training to handle the needs of your dog? Many dogs have special needs, such as ambulatory problems, medications, etc. You want to make sure that your dog walker is aware of the needs and is capable of dealing with them.
- Are they trained to deal with emergencies? Hopefully, this is a skill that they won’t need, but it is better to be ready to deal with potential problems. Ask about their ability to administer first aid. If they are out for a walk, and your dog gets attacked by another dog, you will want a walker that can handle the emergency and quickly get your pet in for the needed care.
- How long will the walks be? Depending on the breed, you may want short walks or long walks. Talk to the potential dog walker about what types of walks they will take your dog on and make sure that they know what your wishes are.
3) How Often Should Your Dog Walker Visit?
Depending on what your schedule is, you may need the dog walker to come more than once per day. See if they are able to come once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Your dog will thank you for breaking up the tedium of their long days alone.
4) Have Your Kids Lend a Helping Hand
Your kids can help quite a bit. Encourage them to spend quality time with your dog before and after school– playing games, snuggling and walking are all things that they can do with your dog to burn excess energy and get them ready for time alone. When your kids come home, have them do some of the same things, this will give your dog something to look forward to.
5) Introduce Highly Engaging Toys
Never underestimate the importance of treats and toys. With the right ones, your dog will entertain themselves while you’re away. Toss your dog a long-lasting chew treat or one of their favorite chew toys. Not only will it entertain them, but the chewing will release endorphins that will help them stay calm, along with burning up a lot of excess energy. In addition, it will also help improve your dog’s dental hygiene. Just be sure that your pup can’t bite off large pieces of treats or chew up the toys. Both could pose potential choking hazards.
6) Recognize the Signs of Separation Anxiety & Get Help if Needed
Separation anxiety can be unbearable for dogs and the people that love them. There are many signs of separation anxiety that every dog owner should know about. While these symptoms can indicate other problems, if you notice several of these signs soon after your kids return to school, it might be time to ask a professional for help.
Look for signs such as:
- Bathroom accidents
- Excessive licking and scratching
- Gnawing and tearing things around the house
- Pacing back and forth as you prepare to leave
- Trying to escape when you leave the house
Make Going Back-to-School Better
Going back to school is not just something you and your kids need to adjust to; your best furry friend will need to adjust as well. While all dogs are different, you can certainly help your dog adjust by starting to prepare them for the change in routine several weeks in advance. Give them longer amounts of time alone, keep plenty of chew treats and chew toys on hand, and look for signs of separation anxiety.
Remember, the happier your dog is, the happier you will be. Looking for a trusted local dog walker for back-to-school season? Rover’s Recess has been making tails wag in the Valpo and Chesterton areas since 2007. Contact us today to schedule a free meet-and-greet!