Our black lab Django and our Chihuahua Hayley have gotten pretty spoiled this summer. There is usually someone home at any given time for them to play with, hang out with outside, or to hand off a treat here and there. I was just thinking the other day how dramatically their worlds will change in just two weeks when the kids head back to school.
Since my kids are in grammar school, high school, and college, our schedules will change at the speed of lighting on September 5th, and the once lazy hazy days of hanging poolside with a barbecue going will be replaced by fast-paced mornings and hectic evenings. The dogs won’t likely get much affection until late afternoon.
Hayley is about 10 and she does fine on her own if left to her own devices, but Django is one and a half and a total mush. She loves nothing more than hanging with us and as long as she is with us, she’s perfectly happy. As it turns, out that may be part of the problem.
A recent article on Vetstreet outlined ways to keep your dogs from being destructive once the kids go back to school citing it as the “hardest time of year for dogs”.
Here are some tips to help them cope:
Exercise: Provide plenty of activity so when they are left alone, they will have already used their energy and can sleep. Just like the kids, our pups are sleeping late and consequently, eating later and have been generally off schedule since late June.
Firm Goodbyes: Like kids, dogs benefit from a lighthearted and happy goodbye routine. Choose a phrase you like and say it everyday on your way out. Vetstreet suggests something like “guard the house.” I say “Be good Djang, Be good Hails” and it’s off we go.
Send Them Off With a Good Meal: When their tummies are full, they’ll likely take a nap and feel content. Give dogs the biggest meal before you leave, but make sure you give them enough time to relieve themselves afterwards, too.
Go Solo: Vetstreet suggests not letting your dog stay by your side all the time while you’re home, as that can encourage dependence. Teach them the stay command and have them lay down and practice long “down-stays” (periods of time when he is lying down, and staying down, on command) on the other side of the room every night.
Make It Fun!: Leave a bunch of chew toys around so if your dog becomes anxious, he can take out his anxiety by chewing on his toy and not your belongings.
Does your dog get sad at back-to-school time? Or does she relish the quiet?
Image: Flickr/ squacco
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