As the back-to-school or return-to-work season approaches, families experience a shift in their household routines. It’s time to start setting early alarms, packing school lunches and leaving the house quiet during the day. Your dog’s daily routine also will change, and they will be home alone more.
While it’s normal for dogs to feel a little out of sorts as they adjust to this new routine, here are a few steps you can take to ease the transition:
1. Practice your new routine before school/work starts
Get your dog used to their new routine as soon as you can. Mimicking your back-to-school or work routine early allows your dog to gradually adjust to the change instead of making the switch abruptly. Establish a consistent routine and stick to it:
- Set your alarm and begin your mornings as you would on a normal school day
- Take your dog out for a bathroom break or walk at the same time you will on weekdays (both in the morning and evening)
- Practice leaving your dog alone at home for small periods to help them adjust
- Set their meal routine (again, both mornings and evenings) at their new times
2. Plan extra exercise in the mornings and evenings
Even with the chaos of the daily routine starting again, your dog still needs to be exercised to keep them happy and healthy. Walking your dog in the morning gives them a chance to burn any energy and leaves them tired for a day without the company they’re used to having. Allow 30 to 45 minutes in the morning for walking, playing and interacting with the outside environment and schedule another exercise, play and/or training session with your dog in the afternoon/evening.
3. Keep your dog mentally stimulated during the day
While our dogs are home alone, they like to be kept entertained. Boredom in dogs can lead to destructive behaviours and behavioural issues. Providing enrichment for your dog is one of the most important things you can do and it’s easy to incorporate into your daily routine. Using a Kong toy stuffed with peanut butter, or a LickiMat with some Greek yoghurt can keep your dog busy for a while. Freezing them in advance can provide even more entertainment since it will take your dog longer to lick out all the deliciousness. Dogs love to chew so provide them with appropriate long-lasting chews such as bully sticks, goat horns or deer antlers.
You can also leave some slow music on during the day. Your dog will go from constantly hearing voices during the day to complete silence for hours. You can find some playlists for doggies on Spotify or leave the radio on.
4. Hire a dog walker/sign up for doggy daycare
Maybe your schedule doesn’t allow for enough walking time in the morning, or you just don’t want your dog to spend the day alone. Enrol your dog with a local dog walker or doggy daycare.
Back to school/work is a tough adjustment for everyone. If your dog seems to struggle with the new routine and you need help, our Pawsitive Behaviour Consultant is here to help. Contact us today for more information.