Back to School, Stress and Your Dog

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It’s that time of year again! Families with school-aged children are preparing for a new school year by shopping for school supplies, new clothes and shoes and enrolling in after school programs and activities. This is in exciting and stressful time of year for all concerned – I don’t have children but I can see the obvious signs of stress in stores; impatient adults at checkout counters, screaming children in shopping carts and frazzled sales staff.

Knowing how much stress the human members of families are under, it’s certain that dogs in these families are also feeling a bit of back to school stress. Unfortunately, sometimes in the chaos, Fido gets the short end of the stick: while parents are busy shopping and preparing, Fido is home alone more and exercised less. If you have a dog you know that extended isolation paired with no exercise makes for a less than well behaved pet. An overly rambunctious pet increases parental anxiety and parents don’t need any more stress in their lives.

What’s a mom or dad to do? I’ve got Four easy Tips to help make your life easier!

  • Start re-acclimating your dog or puppy to lengthier time without you. Whether your dog stays in a crate or a special room while you are out of the house, they are likely going to spend more time without anyone home once school starts. Start re-acclimating them to time alone – This may mean they are crated when you are home. If this is the case, make sure they have a quiet place to call their own. If crate training is new to your dog, check out the resources at the end of this post.
  • Leave your dog with something to do. I am a huge advocate for providing dogs with enrichment whether they are home alone or you are home with them. Most canine enrichment activities allow dogs a positive outlet for instinctual activities such as foraging, hunting, eating and chewing. My favorite enrichment toys are made by Kong, Busy Buddy (Premier) and NylaBone but the possibilities are endless. Whatever you choose, make sure you supervise your dog with the toy before leaving her with it on her own. For enrichment ideas, check out the resources section below.
  • Start planning your dog’s exercise routine.
    Will the dog go for walks before school? After? What about the days you or your children might also have evening activities? Daycare and dog walkers and family friends can all help busy families meet the exercise needs of active pets.
  • Take your dog back to school. If your schedule is not too overwhelming, consider taking your dog back to school for a refresher class or maybe something completely new. Classes and formal training are a great way to bond with your dog and give them the attention they need.

Resources

Crate Training

Enrichment

Dog Trainers


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