As summer comes to a close, it’s time to start getting ready for back-to-school season. This isn’t an easy adjustment to make — parents need to buy supplies and manage their children’s schedules, while kids have to return to the routine of waking up early and doing homework. While everyone struggles with this sudden change in routine, nobody hates it more than your pets.
Every school year, dogs suffer as they transition from a lively, full home to a calm, quiet house. Imagine spending months surrounded by your favorite people, then suddenly winding up home alone all day. While it’s normal for dogs to feel a little out of sorts as they adjust to this new routine, there are a few steps you can take to ease the transition. Here are some of the best dog back-to-school tips.
Create a Safe Environment
Every dog reacts differently to being put in a new environment. While some dogs may embrace more alone time, others may respond negatively. Many dogs also exhibit destructive behaviors or develop separation anxiety as back-to-school time starts. To help your dog adjust, it’s important to create a safe, comfortable home environment for it. This includes:
- Cleaning up your home: Not only should you put away any items that might hurt your dog, but you should also move things that your dog might destroy when left alone (such as pillows). If your dog has a tendency to destroy items, you might want to keep it in a single room during the day. Using a crate (even if your dog has transitioned out of their crate) is a very safe way to transition into a schedule change. The crate will help assure nothing dangerous can happen during a transition, such as chewing an electrical cord, chewing something that could get lodged, etc.
- Scheduling bathroom breaks: Most adult dogs can go about 8 hours without a bathroom break — however, younger and smaller dogs will need more frequent breaks. Make sure your dog has a chance to use the bathroom before everyone leaves the home. Whoever comes home first should also take your dog out immediately.
- Providing necessities: Depending on the heat (unless your dog is going through housebreaking), your dog should always have an amount of water readily available to them. Of course, dogs going through a housebreaking regimen will still be allowed water but the amount will need to be documented and scheduled. You can also hide some treats in toys — this keeps your dog entertained and provides a snack in case it gets hungry.
You may also want to invest in a camera so you can monitor your dog during the day and make sure it’s safe.
Provide Mental Stimulation and Exercise
Once school starts, pets across the country are going to be spending a lot more time alone. To keep your dog occupied, you should provide different tools for entertainment. Some ideas you can try out include:
- Getting interactive toys: To help your dog stay entertained in an empty house, you should equip it with plenty of toys. Be sure to supply toys that it can play with itself, such as chew toys, puzzle toys and toys filled with treats.
- Making scavenger hunts: One way to entertain your dog is by leaving treats around the house for it to find. Running around the house looking for tasty snacks will help keep your dog happy and healthy.
- Provide window access: Assuming your dog does not have any bad habits like barking unnecessarily at anything outside, your dog may enjoy looking out a window — observing the outside world is their equivalent of watching television. Make sure you have a clear, easily accessible window that your dog can enjoy throughout the day. However, if your dog begins barking excessively, you should take away the option before a habit forms.
- Exercise: Physical exercise will alleviate a lot of stress and energy which will allow your dog to relax and accept change easier. Running, walking, biking, playing fetch are all positive ways to release energy. It is best to plan the exercise outing before you leave for work or school, so the day can set up for success. However, if your only option is to exercise when you return from work or school, the carry over will still be beneficial.
Mental stimulation doesn’t just provide entertainment — it helps prevent your dog from resorting to harmful behaviors, such as chewing its own foot or destroying your property.
Hire Dog Walkers or Pet Sitters
No matter how many dog toys you buy, there’s always a possibility that your dog will feel lonely and crave human contact. While older kids who live close to school may be able to visit at lunchtime or breaks, others have to undergo a commute just to get back home. Moreover, many kids participate in after-school activities or social events. If you suspect your dog feels lonely, consider hiring someone to help take care of it.
Most pet parents look for either dog walking or pet sitting services. Dog walkers will visit your home once during the day to take your dog out for a walk — this also gives it a chance to get a bathroom break. Pet sitters, on the other hand, spend a prolonged amount of time with your dog. They can take your dog on a walk, play fetch and keep it busy throughout the day.
Sign Up for Doggy Day Care
No matter how many steps you take to secure your home and keep your dog entertained during back-to-school season, it’s probably going to miss you. Even pet sitters and dog walkers can’t achieve the excitement your dog feels when it’s surrounded by family.
You can’t ask your kids to skip school to take care of your dog. What you can do, however, is make sure your pet is having a good time while everyone is away by sending it to doggy day care. At The Dog Wizard, we offer passionate, hard-working trainers who can work with your pet while introducing it to other dogs.
Thanks to our experience and care, both you and your family can rest assured that your dog is safe and sound during the day. Perks of our day care services include:
- Socialization: Dogs are pack animals and enjoy being around each other. Day care gives your dog the chance to meet other canines, form friendships and learn how to interact with different dogs.
- Training: Trainers can work on undoing bad habits while you are at work and school. Whether you want your dog to learn basic obedience commands or overcome separation anxiety, our trainers are ready to deliver personalized services.
- Entertainment: From shopping malls to parks, we introduce dogs to a variety of unique environments. Not only does this improve their socialization skills, but it also helps keep them busy during the day.
Back to school is a tough adjustment for everyone, but nobody struggles more than pets. Fortunately, The Dog Wizard team is here to help get your dog ready for the school year and keep it happy while you’re gone. Contact one of our franchise locations today to learn more!