August is a funny month. There’s still plenty of good weather ahead to enjoy summertime activities like swimming, picnics, biking and hiking. But…looming ahead is the thought of going back to school. Even if you haven’t been in school for a long time, you know the feeling. And if you have kids, or are a teacher, you know the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer are getting short, and back to school blues are on the horizon.
But…did you ever think that your pooch might have some adjustments in his or her future as well? Fido has become used to having his family around 24/7. All of a sudden the house is empty, and he finds himself at loose ends for the entire day. But with a little preparation and planning you can make the transition easier for your pet.
For starters, use these last few weeks before school starts to get back into a routine. Start getting up earlier and use that extra time to take your dog for a walk or letting him out at approximately the same times you’ll be leaving and arriving home. Do the same for your dog’s morning and evening meals. Start using their crates and leaving them alone for short periods of time so they get used to being on their own again.
Back-to-school might also mean less time for leisurely walks and extended play. This can lead to weight gain and destructive behavior. So it is very important to try to incorporate exercise into your dog’s day. Consider having your pet walk with you and your child in the morning and afternoon if you walk your kids to school. Or have your pup accompany you to the bus stop with your kids. It will make your dog feel like he is part of the back-to-school process. If you’re not able to walk your dog during the day, make sure you set aside some time before you leave, and after you return, for some quality doggy time. Get your kids involved…you’ll all benefit from the activity.
When your dog is home alone all day, consider leaving some slow and relaxing music on to soothe your dog. You might also leave some challenging toys for your dog to play with. There are toys that you can fill with peanut butter or cream cheese and they might prove interesting to your pet.
If you can afford it, and if your dog enjoys playing with other dogs, you might consider Doggy Daycare for a day or two during the week. Or consider hiring a qualified dog walker during the day to give your dog a little break and a little socialization.
Make the weekends a special time for your dog. Plan on longer walks, picnics, hikes or even a visit to a restaurant that allows dogs. After a hard week of work and school you all deserve a break!