Updated: Dec 10, 2019
It’s that time again. School will be starting up again soon and with that, your dog’s routine will be changing. For the past few months, things have likely gotten a little lazy, relaxed and leisurely with the kids out on summer break.
Just like we do with our kids helping them get back into the school schedule, our dogs need help adjusting to this change as well. Here are 5 tips to help prepare your dog for the kids going back to school and a change in their routine.
1. Start early.
Waiting until a few days before school starts doesn’t give you or your dog enough time to adjust to the new schedule. Taking time to practice the new routine will help avoid unwanted behaviors from occurring. Beginning the new routine at least a few weeks before school is to start will allow your dog to gradually adjust to the changes. This may include:
· Setting your alarm and getting you and your dog up earlier each morning;
· Take them out for their potty breaks about the same time you will when school starts (and don’t forget the after school activity time as well);
· Adjust their mealtime to match what time you will be feeding once school begins; &
· If you will be crating your dog during the day, their crate time may increase so begin training for that early on and give them a safe busy toy while they are in their crate.
2. Schedule walks and exercise earlier in the morning.
Providing exercise in the morning before the kids leave for school will help alleviate some anxiety and potential unwanted behaviors from occurring. Dogs who don’t get enough exercise get bored and many times become destructive so planning time in the morning and evening for long walks and/or K9 Fitness exercises will help reduce the chances of your dog getting bored or anxious.
3. Schedule training sessions in the mornings and during mealtimes
Training is a great way to burn mental energy while teaching new behaviors and/or reinforcing current desired behaviors. If your dog is now going to be home alone (crated or loose in the house), setting aside 5 minutes a couple of times in the morning before you and the kids leave for the day will be very beneficial! It not only will continue to reinforce the behaviors you want and have been working on but will work their brain and keep them from becoming anxious, over stimulated and will help them relax. Add training to your daily planner to help you stay on track!
And don’t forget to add in a couple of short training sessions once the kids get home from school and after dinner. (When the kids get home, have your dog sit until you release them and teaching them to sit and/or down before their food bowl goes down are great impulse control training exercises!)
4. Keep your dog content throughout the day
Many dogs get bored when left alone all day and some may be a little naughty. Providing safe toys that keep your dog occupied throughout the day can be very helpful. Each dog is different so finding toys that match your dog’s energy level and chewing desire may take a bit so start now and see which toys they like. That way once school starts, you’re all set!
Leaving music or talk radio on throughout the day may be very comforting to your dog. Soft, relaxing music can be very soothing for your dog and help keep the energy level down. Talk radio can be helpful if your dog was used to hearing people talk throughout the day during the summertime as well. Going from months of people talking a lot to a very quiet house can sometimes be hard for some dogs.
5. Consistent coming and going routine
As much as we want to hug and kiss our dogs good-bye when we leave in the morning and again when we come home, this can actually be the beginning of creating separation anxiety in our dogs. Think about it. We talk to them, pet them, hug them, etc right before we open the door and then we leave. Our dogs are left in a state of excitement and over stimulation.
Then we do the same thing when we come home. We are creating habits and unbalanced emotional states in our dogs when we do this. Keep your coming and going routine very calm and quiet. Create the energy and environment that mimics the energy you want from your dog.
Following these easy tips will help your dog ease into back to school mode and make for a much happier and dog.