Help your pet transition into September.
By Guest Editor, Tammi Searle.
The dog days of summer are quickly coming to a close and back-to-school time is right around the corner. Parents spend
much time preparing their children and themselves for this transition but often overlook the effect it has on Fido. Make back-to-school a fun experience for your whole family with these 5 easy tips.
1. Transition Time
In these last couple of weeks before the big yellow school bus arrives and takes their human playmates away for the day begin getting your dog used to their absence. Start leaving your dog home for short trips (approximately 30 minutes) in the early in the morning to simulate school time. The idea is to get them used to the fact that lazy summer mornings are coming to an end, and a new routine is beginning. In addition, start getting out backpacks, lunchboxes and other items your dog may associate with leaving for school to de-sensitize them to any anxiety-producing cues.
2. Beating Bow-Wow Boredom
Take your dog to buy a special toy that he loves and have your kids give it to him just before leaving for school each day; put it away as soon as the kids get home, so it remains special. Regularly rotating a selection of interesting and interactive toys left with your dog gives him something to do all day. Joe Boxer recommends the IQ Treat Ball…the smart dog toy allows me to adjust the how difficult it is for him to get the treats out of the ball and keeps him occupied for hours!
My client dog Finbar enjoys stuffed Kongs filled with peanut butter or low-fat cream cheese. Freezing filled Kongs makes them last longer throughout the day. And busy dog is a happy, non-destructive dog.
3. Not so Quiet Time
Try leaving a radio or the television on for your dog to listen to while you’re away as the sound of music and/or human voices is often very soothing and breaks up the monotony of a quiet house after it being filled with activity all summer. My three rescue dogs, Joe Boxer, Cricket and Riley recommend soothing jazz music set at low volume.
4. Avoid Anxiety
Changes in daily routines can lead to anxiety in many dogs. One of the most-overlooked ways to decrease stress in dogs is to increase the amount of exercise they get on a daily basis, increasing aerobic activity (even by 30 minutes a day) reduces the signs of separation anxiety in many dogs.
Increased activity helps with a dog’s anxiety. (Searle)
If you’re unable to come home at lunch hire a professional dog walker to get your dog out at mid-day for exercise and socialization! An Adventure Walk with the Wag Wagon Crew will leave your dog happy and tired and ready to lounge away the afternoon while he waits for you to come home from earning money to buy his crunchies and toys!
If your dog is experiencing extreme anxiety try natural products found at your local pets shops such as Rescue Remedy, calming cookies, valerian, melatonin, SAM-e, and dog-appeasing pheromone (DAP).
5. Quality Family Time
With kids back to school and fall sports starting your dog may not get as much time playing as he did during the summer months. Make the most of your time with your dog – a long walk at Seapoint Beach, Fort Foster or Pierce Island is an excellent way to get exercise for the whole family while making Fido feel reconnected.
Hope to see you out there adventuring with your fur-friends.
Tammi Searle is the owner of Wag Wagon Professional Pet Services in Kittery Point, Maine.