Back-to-school is an exciting, hectic time of the year for parents and kids. So many things to do and so little time. The lazy days of the summer give way to early morning alarms and a new routine. We often leave the dog out when we prepare for the upcoming shift in schedules and preparing your dog for back-to-school time is rarely top of mind. There are however a few ways we can ensure the dog has the best experience possible during the transition from summer into the fall.
Transitioning To Being Alone
Your dog has grown accustomed to spending more time with us over the summer, probably more quality time. Maybe they went on family vacations or outings on the regular and now they face hours of daily alone time. The transition may be easier for younger pups, but the older a dog gets, the harder it becomes to get used to a new routine. Also, a dog may not remember back to the spring when the long days of solitude were the norm. For a dog, the spring was a lifetime ago.
Ease your dog back into being alone. Start by leaving them alone in the house for a short period of time. Base that time on the length of time they are already used to spending alone during the day. For example, if the dog never gets left alone, start with a 30-minute increment and slowly work up to a full 8-hour day. Should your dog already be used to a 3-hour block of time alone, start there and work up to the 8-hours. This will help transition them into being alone for a full day. With a PlexiDor Dog Door installed in your home, they won’t need to wait until you get home to go outside. They will have the freedom to potty or chase squirrels at their leisure.
Practice Your Schedule
Begin your new school schedule a couple of weeks before it starts. This will actually benefit everyone. The change in routine is hard on everyone and practicing working out all the kinks can be helpful for all family members, especially the dog. It will relieve anxiety and calm stress.
- Set your alarm and start waking up earlier to go out for the morning walk at the same time you will on school days
- Get your dog back on track for feeding times, both morning and night
- If possible, once breakfast is over, plan on leaving for a while to run errands or go on an outing. The dog will be able to get accustomed to you not being around directly after the morning meal
- If you crate your dog during the day, start that practice again for short periods
Occupying the Dog During the Day
Part of preparing your dog for back-to-school should include figuring out some sort of mental stimulation during the day. When your dog is in the house or in a crate all day they can, and will get bored. There are a ton of toys and puzzles on the market designed to spark your dog’s interest and keep them occupied, usually involving retrieval of a treat. Some dogs enjoy calming music or the TV left on a nature or animal show. You may consider hiring a dog walker or taking your pooch to doggie daycare. Anything you can do to provide a distraction from your absence during the day is welcome relief for your pet. A depressed or anxious dog is a terrible thing to witness and can be a destructive force in your home.
Keeping your dog calm and secure as you leave and return home at the end of the day is also important. Don’t make a big show when you leave in the morning. It will only upset the dog more to make a big deal out of leaving. Be quick and calm as you say goodbye to the dog and make sure you explain to the kids ahead of time why you’re doing this. It’ll save everyone heartache.
In the evening, when you return home, do the same. As you walk in the door, say a quick hi and get settled. Put your things down and take your shoes off, get the kids started on their homework, make sure the dog’s let himself out through his PlexiDor Dog Door recently and then give him all the love and pats he deserves for being such a good boy all day. Just a little planning on your part and preparing your dog for back-to-school can be a breeze.